Coach Exit is an initiative byFundación Exitto help young people at risk of social marginalization with personal and professionally advancement

José María López Sanz, an employee at Santander Bank for the last 20 years, is one of the volunteers that has been a part of the project Coach Exit. The program is one of many developed by Fundación Exit for years and its goal is to put young people with social and academic handicaps in contact with adults of different professions in order to provide them assistance with personal and professional development. “I was aware that human resources collaborates with these kinds of programs and I wondered if I could take part in some kind of social project. I was invited to take part in a project that supports young people who were receiving professional training, and this was how I got to know Coach Exit.”

The story that grew from this moment is amazing. Just by signing up in the project, José María, Chema, met José Manuel Vidal, known as Chema Pequeño, a boy from the Barrio de la Fortuna, a working class neighbourhood in the Spanish capital with a worrying rate of academic dropouts. “I met Chema at a brainstorming session we held here at the bank. Then we went to his secondary school. From the very first moment I met him, we began working on many things, some of them really basic: punctuality, requirements, personal fulfilment. “This is routine in these kinds of projects. The first meeting usually takes place in the young person’s surroundings, here they are usually around 17 or 18 years old. From this moment, tutors are responsible for establishing the length of meetings, calls, exercises, and advisory sessions.

“When you work with an individual who lacks of motivation at this age, the most important thing is to offer practical tools, little things to make use of and work with on his/her personal development,” José María says under the knowing gaze of José Manuel. During weeks of work, they put into practice tasks and exercises set in a variety of environments with the ultimate goal of growing and improving both professionally and personally. “I recommend that he saves money, or thinks about the possibility of investing the savings he generates. He calls me to ask for advice about various topics, and we’ve been working together this way. Today he’s already got a job. In my opinion he is a good professional in his field, getting promoted in his company with very positive recognition.

To this day, almost 4.000 young people have benefited from the initiatives carried out by Fundación Exit within hundreds of enterprises, but undoubtedly the media and the rest of the participants paid most special attention to the “Two Chemas”. Aware of this, José María opts for creating more organic motivations. “It’s true that the coaching process has already finished, and we enjoy a very good relationship. We frequently communicate with each other. When possible, we call each other and at times we meet for lunch because we help each other. Despite the age difference, we are very good friends.”

Most participants in these kinds of projects emphasize the reciprocal nature of the support. It seems that tutors usually feel grateful because they’ve had the opportunity to help young people once the process of coaching has concluded. “We spent a lot of time in the office, at work. We live in very demanding work circles where we have practically no free time to take care of ourselves, so it is really valuable that a company as important as Santander Bank provides you assistance in considering what you can offer to society. I am very grateful.”

The Fundación Exit, which helps hundreds of young people from different backgrounds in several Spanish cities, also works with dozens of enterprises and social organizations trying to help teenagers and young people at risk of social marginalization or with academic difficulties in finding work and advancing professionally. Years ago, he found Santander Bank as a great ally, and programs such as Coach Exit are a good example of the good work done by each organization.