Relativity Partners with CSU Rise Academy.

Relativity, a global legal and compliance technology company, has partnered with Chicago State University Rise Academy. Four Relativity employees will mentor eight CSU Rise Scholars. The Relativity mentors have experience from engineering to cybersecurity.  Chicago State University launched Rise Academy for freshmen students to achieve a tuition-free education for their first academic year. The program will help close the African American and Latino wealth gap in Illinois.

CSU Rise Academy Chicago Defender

Johnathan Hill, a Morehouse graduate, is the Community Engagement Lead at Relativity. Hill oversees the Relativity Fellows Program. He recruits individuals and communities that have been overlooked by certifying and placing them in the e-Discovery technology field.   Hill helps manage the review process for the Justice for Change Program. The program empowers the legal and Relativity community to leverage technology and enables organizations to do fantastic work on the grounds on behalf of racial and social justice. Relativity has dedicated 100Tb of RelativityOne to the program.

Tammy Gibson (TG): Johnathan, how vital is the Relativity and CSU Rise Academy partnership?

Johnathan Hill (JH): The relationship between Relativity and CSU Rise Academy is very important. Not only is it essential for us as an institution and company, but it’s also necessary for the students. We see this program as an amazing partnership to connect with the community and help first-year students be successful, not only in their collegiate careers but also in their professional careers.

J’shawn Johnson, 19, born and raised in Chicago, is a first-time college student and CSU Rise Scholar. Johnson’s genuine calling is to help people. His major is in Psychology, and he will be taking Criminology in his sophomore year. Being accepted to CSU was a dream come true for Johnson.

Tammy Gibson (TG): J’shawn, how has your experience at Chicago State University been so far?

J’shawn Johnson (JJ): It’s been wonderful. I feel like I’m home. I’m around people that understand why I’m here, my motivation, and my drive. CSU is doing everything in their power to get me, not only where I want to be, but where they see me going and beyond. I’m very grateful, and it’s a true blessing to be at CSU.

I am starting with myself by going to therapy, doing spiritual and emotional work. Everything I’m doing is for my family. I want young people to say, “He looks just like me” or “We come from the same background.” I want young people to carve out a path for them to succeed. I want to take those burdens away and build a better generation.

TG: Johnathan, what made you want to be a mentor?

JH: When I look at J’shawn, that was me four or five years ago. While I was at college, it wasn’t just a tuition burden over my head, but it was the burden of resources. It was the burden of not having access to computers and technology that could help me be successful in the classroom. I’m a mentor because it’s the right thing to do. My passion was creating a space for individuals that look like me and what city needed more positive black role models.

I’m excited because this donation will relieve the burdens of getting laptops and textbooks, but most importantly, it’s going to ease the burden to allow young people, like J’shawn, to focus on graduation without any hurdles.

CSU Rise Academy

TG: J’shawn and Johnathan, how has the mentor/mentee relationship been so far?

JJ: It’s been a great experience. Mr. Hill has given me honesty, resources, and guidance. He keeps me driven. We meet one Friday a month. The things I get from Mr. Hill from the meetings are inspirational and positive. At first, I was a little nervous, but Mr. Hill has been a significant help. He has given me confidence.

JH: J’shawn is a remarkable human being. We talk about what he needs are such as tutoring, individualized support, academically or career-wise. We are building a foundation together.

To learn more about Chicago State University Rise Academy, go to

Tammy Gibson is a travel historian and author. Find her on Facebook, Instagram @SankofaTravelher, and Twitter @SankofaTravelHr1.


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