The two are a part of Beyond School Walls, our innovative workplace-based mentorship program. Created in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Beyond School Walls matches at-risk youth with Comcast employees as part of our mission to strengthen individuals and communities through one-on-one mentoring.

Since the program's 2008 launch, we have expanded Beyond School Walls to include 325 Comcast "Bigs" who volunteer their time as mentors to "Littles" at 14 of our U.S. offices. In our efforts to guide participating Littles toward new and more positive directions, we have also contributed more than $50 million in cash and in-kind support to the national BBBS organization and its local chapters around the country.

Michael knows firsthand what a positive impact mentoring can make in a child’s life. The Comcast advanced services director — who also serves on the board of directors of the Nutmeg BBBS chapter in Hartford, Connecticut — was once a "Little" in the program, too.

When Michael learned that his office was participating, he jumped at the chance to offer a child the same kind of guidance and support he received from his lifelong BBBS mentor, Tim.

"Tim’s subtle nudges helped guide me in the right direction," says Michael. "Having that same opportunity to positively influence Aavon is deeply satisfying."

Most of the youth who participate in our Beyond School Walls program achieve better grades and are less likely to drop out of high school as a result. And while Michael and Aavon spend a lot of their time playing — "He loves Connect Four, and he beats me regularly," says Michael —the program’s workplace-based setting also gets Aavon thinking about potential career opportunities. "By bringing Aavon to the office, I’m able to show him how I work with technology on an everyday basis," he says.

Just as Aavon gleans impactful life lessons during his time spent at the Comcast offices, Michael feels that he, too, is growing and evolving. "I’m just a better person all around for being a mentor," he says. "I’d love to see more people and businesses get involved in programs like this — it’s so important to pay it forward."