Category: WorkReady | Aug 1, 2009
On August 13, 2009, more than 1,000 youth and adults gathered at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the WorkReady Philadelphia Closing Celebration, marking the conclusion of another successful year in which a record number of youth were served. This annual event showcases the exemplary work of young people who participate in WorkReady summer and year-round programs. Since 2003, WorkReady Philadelphia programs have provided high-quality internships and training programs that promote career exposure, academic achievement, high school graduation, and post-secondary readiness.
This summer, almost 9,000 young people, ages 14-24, took part in WorkReady Philadelphia experiences, which are made possible by generous investments from employers, foundations and government including the Workforce Investment Act, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and, new this year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Recovery Act created rigorous and innovative work-related experiences for 2,500 young Philadelphians, who would otherwise not have had this ‘first break’ into the world of work.
Reflecting on his internship, 17-year old Aaron Williams stated “I really feel as though I had a great opportunity that most adults wish they had when they were my age.” Aaron spent his summer at Pennoni Associates, Inc., an engineering firm.
At the event, more than 600 students displayed the culminating work of their WorkReady participation at the Projects and Portfolios Fair. Each project and portfolio was specially selected to be displayed in the Fair and to compete in one of nine content categories (see below). The projects reflected both the students’ summer career exploration and their mastery of academic skills. The portfolios documented mastery of 21st Century skills and other competencies considered key to success in postsecondary education and careers.
“Some of the best members of Congress were former pages and interns on the Hill. There’s a path to success that starts with quality internships. You can see by the excitement in these young people that they are indeed becoming work-ready.” said United States Congressman Chaka Fattah.
Individuals representing businesses and organizations from across the region served as judges, reviewing the Fair entries and speaking to the young people to learn more about how and why they developed their presentation. “I was very excited to be asked to be a judge. The students need a chance and deserve a shot. I do think it’s going to be a very difficult decision,” said Deborah O’Brien, Community Relations Manager at Bank of America.
For the first time, the WorkReady Philadelphia Awards Ceremony was planned and presented entirely by young people. The Philadelphia Youth Network Ambassadors – a group of young people who represent and advocate on behalf of Philadelphia youth – were charged with this responsibility, and carried it out with considerable success.
Master of Ceremonies Todd Latimore-Handy, a rising senior at Constitution High School, offered greetings and remarks, and introduced the featured activities, which included a spoken word performance by Andrew Howard and Jason Easely; a report by the Youth Ambassadors Research Team on program participant satisfaction; a new routine from the Rightful Place Dance Ensemble, comprised of staff and WorkReady youth participants; and the winners of awards in each of the categories.