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Citywide Coalition Launches WorkReady Philadelphia 2004

Category: PYN | Mar 1, 2004

March 25, 2004. Leading employers from around the region gathered today to launch WorkReady Philadelphia's 2004 Summer Campaign. The youth workforce development system of programs, which last year to exposed over 7,000 youth to professional opportunities and training, is expanding its efforts this year to encourage CEO's around the region to hire interns and invest in the future of Philadelphia's workforce.
Jon Boscia, Chairman and CEO of Lincoln Financial Group, hosted the event, bringing together current and prospective employers with program interns and speaking out on the importance of WorkReady.
“When we hire and mentor young people, we are making an investment in the future. It’s an
investment opportunity we can not afford to miss.”
Boscia, who co-chairs the WorkReady campaign with Mayor Street and School District CEO Paul Vallas, spoke warmly of Lincoln Financial's experience hiring WorkReady interns. “We hired 14 students last summer, and it was a terrific experience not only for the young people, but for our employees as well,” he said.
Young interns also shared their experiences at the breakfast. Roberto Ortiz, a youth apprentice at Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems & Solutions, talked passionately about what this experience could mean to his future - and Philadelphia’s . “This is a program that wants to advance the capability of the local region by providing top of the line training to high school students and graduates.”
Monet Brown, an intern at Independence Blue Cross, echoed Ortiz’s sentiments. “WorkReady gave me the chance to see what the business world is all about.”
For Josanna Smiley, a WorkReady Internship with Dale Construction Company was transformative. “Before my last summer’s internship, all I thought about was making money and how to spend it. WorkReady opened my eyes to see that work is just not about making money; it's about accomplishing goals and finding pride in your work and so much more . I get so much more joy out of going to work.”
WorkReady Philadelphia exposes young people to professional careers in the corporate sector through summer and year- round jobs supported with funds from the City, the school district, foundations and employers. The WorkReady campaign places particular emphasis on developing new, employer-paid summer internships for Philadelphia students.
Pamela Crawley, Vice President and Director of Public Affairs for Citizens Bank, spearheads the WorkReady campaign in her role as chair of the Philadelphia Youth Council. “Last year we made a good beginning – we built a coordinated system that aligned public and nonprofit funding, and also created  an infrastructure for developing unsubsidized student internships,” she said.

Crawley underscored the importance of new employer-paid placements. “ With the recent erosion in federal support for youth workforce development, we are looking for a substantial increase in the number of commitments from employers from across the City.” Last year, Philadelphia experienced a 23% cut, or $1.8 million in funding for youth programming available through the Workforce Investment Act.
Corporate partners involved in WorkReady Philadelphia agree to provide student interns with exposure to career opportunities and support from professional mentors. Participants work 20 hours a week for six weeks and gain invaluable experience and job training needed to become tomorrow’s skilled workforce.
WorkReady interns receive extensive workplace preparation prior to and throughout placement so that they understand the expectations and responsibilities of employment, and are ready to assume roles as productive employees.
The School District of Philadelphia is also an active partner in the WorkReady campaign. District CEO Paul Vallas underscored the importance of workplace experiences not only to employment success, but also to positive academic outcomes. “We know that young people who have opportunities to participate in highquality work experiences do better in the classroom,” he said. “When young people understand the connections between academic skills and workplace success, then they find new motivation to do well in school.”
City Education Secretary Debra Kahn, representing the Mayor, praised the employers for their support of WorkReady Philadelphia. “You are the core of this movement,” she said. “Because of your commitment and advocacy, more young people will have the opportunity to work this summer, and because of your leadership this program will continue to grow.”
In addition to Lincoln Financial and Citizens Bank, other employers recognized as “premiere investors” at the breakfast celebration included Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems & Solutions, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Major new commitments for 2004 have already been made by AmeriChoice, Comcast and NBC Channel 10.

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