The Passion Project: How a leadership training program became an annual pro-bono powerhouse

The Passion Project: How a leadership training program became an annual pro-bono powerhouse

Written By: Hannah Breeding

In 2018, KemperLesnik sought to engage voices from all areas of the agency to identify ways to improve company culture and cross-functionality. As a result, the Passion Project was born.

The Passion Project is a pro-bono initiative that brings to life the agency’s core value of giving back. Each year, KemperLesnik selects a Chicago-based non-profit organization to receive the full suite of agency services. Through this partnership, the agency helps to elevate the profile of its non-profit partner in the community and maximize the opportunity for positive change.

All employees at KemperLesnik are encouraged to apply to be part of the Passion Project account team, no matter tenure or specialty. By building cross-functional teams, not only do our non-profit partners benefit from having the full-breadth of agency services at their disposal, but KemperLesnik employees benefit from working alongside and build relationships with coworkers outside of their daily functional teams.

Each year, the selected agency team independently identifies the non-profit for which they feel they can make the greatest impact. In 2018, the Passion Project partnered with Beyond Sports Foundation, an organization that works to assist student-athletes from under-resourced communities by giving them the skills necessary to enter and excel in college and succeed in life beyond sports. The KemperLesnik team provided event support and professional development seminars for BSF students within the program.

In 2019, the new Passion Project team selected Cradles to Crayons, a national non-profit providing children ranging in age from birth to 12 who are living in homeless, foster and low-income situations the essential items they need to thrive. Through public relations, content development and social media management, the team elevated the non-profit’s presence among its target audience in Chicago via digital marketing strategies.

The 2020 team jumped at the chance to get involved in the timely discussion of social justice. Multiple non-profits were identified as potential partners through dedication to educating and combating injustices in Chicago. After a careful review process, the team selected My Block My Hood My City, and a beautiful partnership was born. The agency team provides media relations, event marketing support and social media management for My Block My Hood My City.

My Block My Hood My City asks one simple but profound question, “What is something I can do that would have a positive influence on my block?” This approach emphasizes that change starts where you are and, with enough enthusiasm, can spread like wildfire. My Block’s founder, Jahmal Cole, believes that no effort is too big or too small. From organizing volunteer clean-up events across the city to speaking with city officials on the importance of city services and infrastructure, Cole and his following are making a great impact on the city of Chicago.

For KemperLesnik, its organizations like My Block My Hood My City that make the Passion Project program such an impactful and fulfilling success.

For additional information on KemperLesnik and recommendations on how to create your own Passion Project, contact