Category: WorkReady | Nov 3, 2010
"It was very exciting and meaningful to have someone take time out of their day to acknowledge me, a young person who they didn't even know," said Timothy VanBeverhoudt, a senior at Benjamin Franklin High School and a 2009 WorkReady intern at Day & Zimmerman. The audience of employers and foundation investors smiled and nodded in agreement. They indeed recognized the importance of his words; everyone in the room had helped give a first break to a young person much like Timothy.
On November 3, 2010, Mayor Michael Nutter honored more than 200 area employers and foundation leaders who supported summer internships for Philadelphia youth. The fourth annual Breakfast of WorkReady Champions, held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, was especially celebratory given the turbulent economic circumstances the region faced this year. Despite these challenging times, more than 2,000 internships were created due directly to employer and foundation support, augmenting federal and state funding and contributing to 11,180 young people working this past summer through WorkReady Philadelphia, the City's system for youth workforce preparation.
"This is not just about a job. It is about an opportunity. It is about a career. It is about putting yourself in a situation where you can see a future for yourself," Mayor Nutter remarked about the internship program. "For all of our champions here, our obligation to our young people remains the same: their lives and their futures, this city's future, this region's future, this country's future depend on what we do as adults to prepare the next generation to take our place."
WorkReady Philadelphia participants, including Master of Ceremonies Timothy VanBeverhoudt, are poised to do just that. In addition to bettering their workplace skills and bringing green, youthful perspectives to the workplace, participants also selected the summer's "Go Green" theme, which prompted conscious choices to infuse environmentally green practices into the WorkReady system: the youth application was available online, WorkReady t-shirts were made from organic or recycled fabric and many youth worked in green jobs. At the breakfast, the agenda was displayed on the projector screen instead of being printed and guests received biodegradable garden kits as their thank-you gifts.
That kind of leadership is also displayed by the morning's first employer speaker, Anthony Bartolomeo, President and CEO of Pennoni Associates and employer co-chair of the Philadelphia Council for College and Career Success, which oversees all aspects of WorkReady Philadelphia. Bartolomeo spoke of internships as "capstones" for youth who are ready to function effectively in high performing workplaces and encouraged employers to consider becoming involved in the WorkReady Industry Pipeline model, a two-year sequence of activities that exposes students to high-demand industries and helps them to develop relevant knowledge and skills that can propel them to postsecondary education and possible careers in the field.
Bartolomeo then introduced Rob Wonderling, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Building upon the success of the previous three years, Wonderling and his colleagues at the Chamber continue to garner support for WorkReady from the business community.
"We benefit from understanding and learning what this vibrant, important next generation has to offer to this region's business community," Wonderling said. He underscored the significance of partnerships between business, not-for-profit organizations and City government and applauded Mayor Nutter on fulfilling his promise to provide more opportunities for young people via career preparation and degree attainment.
Mayor Nutter then expressed his gratitude to the employers and foundations that supported internships and spoke about the great collaboration achieved this summer in coordinating the WorkReady summer system, the School District of Philadelphia's Summer Learning and More program, and the Out-of-School Time network to provide a record 11,180 non-competing opportunities for youth.
Timothy VanBeverhoudt began the awards presentation, introducing Kenjah Hughston, a 2010 intern at Blank Rome, who presented the 10-Plus Award and 25-Plus Award, recognizing investors who, for the first time, supported 10 or more and 25 or more internships, respectively. Kenjah always wanted to be a lawyer and working in Blank Rome's library helped to reassure him of that. "But I'm also interest in medicine," he said, "and I don't want to make a final decision about my career until I have had a chance to see what it's like to work in a hospital, too." With continued support from employers and foundations, Kenjah may get that chance next summer.
Odelia McFadden presented the Perennial Award next, honoring employers and foundations that have supported WorkReady from the outset in 2003. In introducing the award, Odelia spoke of the impact WorkReady had on her personally and thanked those investors who make these opportunities possible. "Working at St. Christopher's instilled in me the importance of giving to others and not just focusing on myself," she said. "Life is not always about what you can get from others, but rather what you can do for others to create advancement and positivity in society. Your continuous support will provide young people with the experience they need in order to become successful in life."
The following employers received the 10-Plus Award:
The following employers received the 25-Plus Award:
The following employers and foundations received the Perennial Award: