In 2012, Charlotte Works’ board of directors decided to begin serving in-school youth for the first time in seven years. They wanted to engage youth while still in high school to provide the wrap-around services needed to help them graduate and become career- and/or college-ready.
For the past two years, we’ve been providing education and training services to youth in several Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ high schools (Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, Crossroads Charter, Garinger, Harding University, Hawthorne Academy of Health Science, Independence, Kennedy Charter School, West Charlotte, West Mecklenburg and Zebulon B. Vance).
This past year marked the first-ever year of Charlotte Works serving in-school youth directly. Our focus was to provide work-based learning experiences, such as workplace tours, job-shadows and internships to bridge the gap between the classroom and real-world work.
Through a partnership with MeckEd, the youth participated in various opportunities including workplace tours at Central Piedmont Community College and Bank of America; internships; career-readiness training with the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program; and roundtable discussions focusing on cosmetology, auto mechanics and emergency medical services with industry professionals and training providers.
The youth were also engaged in the Junior Achievement curriculum that teaches soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication and conflict-management skills, collaboration, knowing work priorities and creating a personal brand. It prepared them for their summer employment opportunities with such employers as Childcare Network, Metrolina Christian Academy, Friendship Gardens, Camp from the Heart and The River Cathedral of Charlotte.
In March, the youth attended the North Carolina WIA (Workforce Investment Act) iLead Youth Summit in Greensboro, N.C., where they learned principles of leadership development.
Altogether, we served 101 youth through our in-school program this year, and we’re so excited for the 16 students who graduated high school! They are now spending their summers working, completing internships and preparing for the military or college in the fall.
As a celebration and year-end activity we took a group of participants to the Blue Ridge Assembly at Black Mountain, N.C., for three days of team-building activities such as high ropes, hiking and a low-ropes obstacle courses. We had a great time watching the youth bond and work together as a team. Many of them expressed that this was the best experience they had ever had!
In the new program year, Charlotte Works will partner with ResCare and MeckEd to provide in-school youth services. We look forward to continuing to serve youth by providing the skills and opportunities they need to be successful.