ORIX USA’s Christopher Crosby was the first member of his family to attend college. Now, the Associate Director for Corporate Development is helping young people on their own path to higher education through his involvement with Fairway to Success, a program that provides scholarships, mentorship and an introduction to golf.
Run by The Northern Texas PGA, the United Way and Deloitte—a consulting and professional services company—Fairway to Success is aimed at exposing students from low-income families to the game of golf. Young adults from three Dallas high schools—Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and W.W. Samuell—are invited to participate in PGA-led golf classes where they’ll pick up life lessons like sportsmanship and respect. That batch of youngsters is then eligible to apply for a $20,000 college scholarship funded by Deloitte.
“A lot of these kids are being raised by their grandparents,” Christopher says. “They’re helping to take care of kids at home since they’re the oldest. They’re working 40 hours per week, which is absurd considering they’re also going to school roughly 40 hours per week. On top of that, they’re excellent students.”
Last year, the program awarded six $20,000 scholarships, and to date, a total of $880,000 has been awarded to 44 recipients since Fairway to Success was implemented in 2007.
Having formerly worked at Deloitte before joining the ORIX team, Christopher was heavily involved with Fairway to Success for about six years, serving on the executive committee and head of the mentor program—a facet of the program that he says is his favorite. Each scholarship recipient is paired with a mentor from Deloitte who helps guide them through college and help them land that first job.
“Early in the program, we’d write checks but lose track of the kids. They weren’t graduating at as high of a rate as we would have liked,” Christopher says. “After implementing the mentor program, the graduation rates went up dramatically. It’s really turned into more of a family than an organization.”
Though Christopher is no longer leading the charge since he left Deloitte, he’s still heavily involved in mentoring one individual he’s worked with over the years—and just the other day, Christopher received some exciting news from this young man. The mentee, formerly a shy guy who comes from a tough background, is graduating from Babson College this year and landed an impressive job in Boston. Having spent countless hours with Christopher prepping for the job interview, the young man now finds himself in the mentor role. “He was excited to tell me that now his friends at school are coming to him and seeking advice on job interviews,” Christopher says. “Things have really come full circle for him. Now people view him as an interviewing expert.”
And for Christopher, helping kids see their own potential is what it’s all about. “The most important piece of what we could give back is helping kids through college and making sure they get that first job,” he says. “It’s important to me to give back to children who haven’t been given many opportunities.”
That mindset carries over to Christopher’s involvement with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “It’s tough for me to know there’s a lot of young kids with cancer who aren’t being given the opportunity to live.”
That’s why Christopher has become an advocate for St. Jude as well. About seven years ago, he began attending St. Jude events since a family member works for the organization. After hearing success stories from the children, Christopher became hooked. “Kids who are in remission get up there at these events and give beautiful speeches, which is a big tearjerker,” he says. “It’s pretty easy to get hooked on St. Jude.”
The children and parents receiving care from the research giant do not receive a single bill for travel, housing, food or medical costs. “As a society, it’s incredible that we have an institution that’s available to us in this country.”
St. Jude now strikes an even deeper chord with Christopher now that he has two children: 2-year-old George and 1-month-old Milleranne. “Now looking at my children and thinking about how some of these parents go through this experience with a child that has cancer—that has helped solidify my conviction to help St. Jude even more so,” he says.
This connection is what drives Christopher to serve on the organization’s underwriting committee, a group of individuals charged with fundraising for DFW. What that means? Each fall, the fundraising arm of St. Jude—ALSAC—stages a gala and golf tournament, the St. Jude Evening Under the Stars Party & Golf Classic. The underwriting committee seeks donation across DFW in support of the event, which falls on Nov. 4 and Nov. 6 this year. Keynote speakers like Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle have been known to make appearances, and the committee raises more than $1 million each year through the event.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Christopher for his hard work and commitment to St. Jude,” says Bonne Whittaker, the ALSAC liaison for regional events. “We’re excited to see what he’s able to accomplish this year!”
That’s where fellow ORIX employees come in. While ORIX has already committed to a sponsorship, Christopher encourages any others who are interested in participating to reach out to him to see how they can get involved—especially since the commitment can be as little as one day. “Volunteers are integral to the success of our fundraising events,” Bonne says. “Because of their support, St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.”
After attending one of the organization’s events, you just might find yourself hooked like Christopher. “It’s a charity I think I’ll be involved in the rest of my life,” he says. “I feel like I’ve found my calling in terms of how I want to give back.”
While a passion for his community is evident, Christopher also fosters a passion for spending time with his children and wife, rooting for his hometown Chicago sports teams (Go Cubs Go) and activities like golf, which he used to play competitively. When he looks back on his own life, he says he’s aware of the many opportunities he was given and wants to return the gift.
“When you find the time or financial means to give back, seek out something you’re passionate about, as your impact will be that much greater,” Christopher says. “Giving back in many circumstances can provide as much benefit to the individual donating time and money as it does the recipient, so it’s a win-win for society.”