In 2007, Bill Copeland’s friend, then-Philadelphia Eagles President Joe Banner, suggested he get involved with a fledgling program in Philadelphia called City Year, which was addressing the dropout crisis in inner city schools. Copeland (MBA ’81) not only got behind City Year, he brought a whole organization with him.
“Deloitte is a big believer in investing in the community,” says Copeland, who is a vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and national managing principal of Deloitte’s life sciences and health-care practice. “Kids drop out because of the perverse effects of poverty and the fact that they were never really on track,” says Copeland. “As a result we’re perpetuating a class of people who will be very hard to employ, especially in today’s economy.”
Copeland has been responsible for building a deep relationship with City Year across Deloitte. “A lot of people who work at Deloitte never had a ‘B’ in their life. They’ve always been successful at everything,” he says. “And then they go to a school that has no library, no books, no art, no music, no gym. They’re exposed to the City Year members who are so passionate about helping children. And they’re so completely blown away by it.”
So much so, Deloitte decided to make City Year a national partnership. In addition to Deloitte professionals mentoring senior corps leaders and sitting on the local boards of 13 City Year programs across the country, the company also provides significant pro bono assistance. “We help them do the things they do well, but do it better,” Copeland says. “Because we’re consultants, we bring a lot of tools, methodology and different ways to look at problems.”
Last May, Copeland was honored as City Year Philadelphia’s 2013 “Idealist of the Year.” The title is more than fitting. “Deep down inside, people who go into consulting want to make an impact,” says Copeland. “I want more people to know about City Year.”