From mentoring high school students to serving on the Corporate Committee, local business owner Michael Byrne has been an active supporter of UrbanPromise since he first heard of the organization in 1997. A native of southern New Jersey, Michael was always familiar with the challenges of Camden, but it wasn’t until he came across UrbanPromise that he became more involved.
“We felt we had finally found an organization that was effective,” Michael said, referring to supporting UrbanPromise alongside his wife, Sharon. “Many groups demonstrate compassion, but they lack organization and business skill. With Bruce [Main] and UrbanPromise, we felt they had both deep compassion and a professional staff.”
Michael is co-owner of Lighthouse Planning Consultants (LPC), a wealth management company based in Cherry Hill. LPC advises high net-worth individuals on investment strategies. Their close proximity to Camden is part of the reason for his involvement.
“A lot of children are in a desperate situation, and it’s only 10 miles from where we live and five miles from our office. How can we look the other way?”
Through UrbanPromise, Michael learned that only half the children in Camden ever graduated from high school and only 5% ever went to college. He began participating in the UrbanPromise Academy Lunch Club – a mentoring club that matches professionals and volunteers from the community with groups of high school students. Over the course of seven lunchtime gatherings, the volunteers and students get to know one another and discuss topics related to their futures.
Michael believes it’s programs such as these – and UrbanPromise’s after-school and summer camp programs – that make the organization’s work so important.
“In the suburbs, children often have a parental example that can help them set their goals and expectations,” Michael said. “But because of the struggles many parents face in Camden, children don’t always have that guidance. UrbanPromise provides them with that structure and exposes them to positive values.”
Over the years, Michael has become an important ambassador for UrbanPromise. As a member of the Corporate Committee, he volunteers to put UrbanPromise’s work in front of companies and potential donors in the Delaware Valley.
In fact, for a recent birthday celebration, Michael asked only two things of his friends – to wear a Hawaiian shirt, and to bring a blank check. He then asked his friends to support the organization.
“They say the true measure of a society is how it treats those who are less fortunate,” Michael explained. “But I would say this is also the true measure of a company and of a person.”
UrbanPromise salutes Michael for his faithful support. Thank you for everything you do!