Leo Burnett Reflects on a Year of Service and Impact

Leo Burnett opened its office doors 88 years ago with an offering of red apples as a gesture of Midwestern hospitality– officially defining our agency values and embracing a spirit of giving.

Giving back isn’t just a task, it’s a value etched into Leo Burnett’s DNA. We call this “Leo Love” – the agency’s community outreach program that gives employees and agency partners the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

As the end of 2023 nears, we pause to reflect on the moments of service and impact of key initiatives and partnerships throughout the year.

“I’m forever inspired by the kindness of our people. From executive leadership to summer interns, everyone generously shares their Leo Love by donating their time and talent,” said Michelle Mahoney, VP, Social Impact Lead at Leo Burnett and creator of the Leo Love program.

Nurturing Creative Minds with Marwen Arts Chicago

Founded in 1987, Marwen, Chicago arts non-profit, has inspired the city’s youth, nurturing their creative talents through art and community. Leo Burnett has partnered with Marwen for several years to help drive engagement and funding on behalf of the organization.

Leo Burnett President and CCO, Britt Nolan, and Revel Group President Sarah Finlayson-Banasiak, serve as Marwen Board Members and were Co-Chairs of the organization’s 2023 Paintbrush Ball (PPB). The theme of this year’s PBB was designed by Leo Burnett’s pro-bono team and called Art@Work, a cornerstone of Marwen’s pathway program that provides students with immersive and paid professional experiences in various creative fields.

With over 400 philanthropists, cultural influencers and civic leaders in attendance, this annual event raised funds to keep all Marwen programs at no cost to families.

“As we strengthen our relationship with Marwen, we are looking forward to launching our Microgrant Partnership Program in 2024, said Michelle.“This program will lessen a student’s financial burden as they explore various pathways into our industry.”

To learn more, please visit  Marwen.org.

Building Career Pathways Through the Pencil Project Program

From its inception, the humble, unassuming Alpha 245 pencil has been a symbol of Leo Burnett’s pursuit of bold, daring ideas. The belief is when fearless creativity meets intelligent thinking, a pencil can become a powerful tool. And so, the Pencil Project was born—a college partnership program where the next generation of talent can discover their own bold and daring ideas and bring them to life.

Championed collectively across Leo Burnett, Arc Worldwide and Spark Foundry, and selflessly powered by employee volunteers and educators, what began as an optional 2-week creative boot camp has flourished into a 6-credit course at Chicago State University (CSU), Illinois’ only predominantly black college. This year, the Pencil Project hosted its fourth annual Chicago State bootcamp. As part of this program, eight graduates were awarded a collective $25,000 of scholarships to help advance their education and careers, and five graduates were offered creative internships within Leo Burnett, providing them with valuable real-world experience.

“The Pencil Project Team remains committed to sparking curiosity about careers that might not ever have been considered,” says Michelle. “What starts in the classroom moves into summer internships, then grows into full-time employment where our Pencil Project alumni have a natural desire to help the next generation discover their potential.”

Leo Burnett, Arc Worldwide and Spark Foundry were also honored this year with a Corporate Champion Award, recognizing our collective commitment to transform the lives of Chicago State University students and our efforts to advance equity into the advertising industry.

Learn how to support future generations of creative talent by visiting  The Pencil Project Fund.

Giving Back with Off the Street Club

Each year, Leo Burnett sets aside an all-agency volunteer day known as Give Back Day, where we partner with our friends at Off the Street Club (OTSC), Chicago’s oldest boys and girls club, to provide hands-on support for the organization.

This Give Back Day was dedicated to buffing floors, repainting walls, and freshening up the club’s outdoor playground. The agency also donated two industrial refrigerators after the previous ones were ruined in a flood.

Leo Burnett’s support of OTSC extends beyond this day. “Throughout the year, Burnetters are actively involved with the club.” says Michelle. “Whether visiting on a Third Thursday, spending time at Camp Mathieu during the summer months or attending fundraising events, there are so many ways our employees support these wonderful kids and teens.”

The agency is proud to host the Off the Street Club’s Annual Holiday Luncheon in late 2024 and partner with the larger Chicago advertising community to create a day filled with connection, inspiration, and fundraising.

To learn more about OTSC, please visit  www.offthestreetclub.com.