When Stamford Public Schools partnered with Future 5, a nonprofit youth development organization based in Stamford, to run service-learning activities for students in their Alternative Routes to Success program, high school students, like Marcelo Pena, learned that "finding a purpose" is an important step in business and career success.

Now Pena, a 2012 high school graduate who was born in Chile and grew up in Stamford, is close to completing his first year as a teller at the Bank of New Canaan's branch at 208 Elm St.

Through membership in an ongoing coaching and networking program, Future 5 encourages teenagers to make the connection between their current high school experience and educational or professional goals of their own. For Pena, the Future 5 program provided access to the business world and to local community leaders. He interacted with people outside his comfort zone. He even interviewed the mayor. With ClifMcFeely, the founder of Future 5, as his mentor, Pena learned about the internal forces that drive people, and began thinking about what was important to him in his own life.

"Before I was involved in the Future 5 program," said Pena, "I wasn't sure what was needed to get from where I was, to where I wanted to be. Through the program, I became involved in our local community and I was able to learn and help those around me. In turn, others helped me gain an understanding of what drives not only successful people, but businesses and communities. Thanks to the experience and exposure I got through Future 5, I have been able to get solid job experience with a growing and successful organization."

Elizabeth Buzzeo, manager of the bank's 156 Cherry St. branch, describes Pena as "a responsible, knowledgeable and well-mannered young gentleman. Once he established himself in his job, he quickly proved that he is a true go-getter."

McFeely, who takes pride in Pena's accomplishments, said, "The organization's purpose is to create a game-changing tool to attack one of the critical social issues of our times: the disconnection of disadvantaged teens and resulting waste in human potential."

More Information

Fact box

With a goal of connecting high school students to the world and their futures by developing a plan for achievement in both school and in life, Future 5 instills knowledge, confidence and a support system to help them create a foundation for their future. Future 5 launched in March 2009 and became a self-funded program of Domus in May 2011.

For information, visit domuskids.org/futurefive or call Lindsey Waggaman at 203-358-8787.