In spring 2017, Alexis Rivera, a junior at Hartford's Pathways Academy, knew it was time to take his future into his own hands. He had been interested in internships to get some real-world experience since his sophomore and knew he needed to take some steps to make it happen. So he asked for help from his guidance counselor who showed him how to prepare a resume and apply. In January 2017, Alexis was selected for a spring internship in the Hartford Student Internship Program and was placed at FaithCare.
At FaithCare, Alexis had a robust experience. He updated the company website and translated outreach documents and social media pieces into Spanish to help reach a larger audience and better serve their clients. He also received additional training and support from the staff at the Center for Latino Progress. At the end of his internship, Alexis also prepared and presented a report for all managers about what he had learned. Alexis' supervisor and mentor from FaithCare was so impressed by Alexis' work that he was invited to come back for a summer internship.
Now more students like Alexis will have access to internships and other job development training thanks to a one-year, $150,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Pubic Giving to support the Hartford Student Internship Program.
"My internship at FaithCare provided me with real on-the-job work experience, but I was particularly grateful for the support I received from the staff at the Center for Latino Progress and FaithCare who made me feel comfortable in this new environment," said Alexis. "They helped me stay focused and offered me advice and said it was okay to be nervous when facing new challenges but to take things one day at a time."
The Hartford Student Internship Plan (HSIP), a partnership with Hartford Public Schools, Capital Workforce Partners, the City of Hartford, MetroHartford Alliance and CBIA, offers project-based learning experiences and internships to juniors and seniors in high school. Through this program students participate in mock interviews, resume development and other workforce readiness training prior to gaining actual work experience. Internship placements are aligned to student interest and/or academy theme of the high school.
"The $150,000 investment in the Hartford Student Internship Program by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is critical to supporting the talent development pipeline needed by area business and industry," said Alex Johnson, president and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners. "As Capital Workforce Partners drives to close the skills gap, this investment will provide critical work experiences for 150 Hartford Public School students leading to their successful career development."
The Hartford Student Internship Program helps to prepare Hartford Public Schools students in grades 11 and 12 to pursue and complete post-secondary credential or degree programs, and complements the classroom curriculum with real-world experiences to provide students with the skills they need to fill the jobs created by Connecticut's aging workforce.
The youth unemployment rate among youth ages 16 to 19 in Hartford County is 25.5 percent, in the City of Hartford the rate is nearly double at 46 percent. The Hartford Student Internship Program is a cornerstone career and post-secondary education support strategy for Hartford students ages 16 to 19. Hartford Foundation funding supports 60 to 75-hour internships and other work-based learning programming for a total of 150 students -- 125 internships and 25 other work-based learning opportunities at suitable worksites for juniors and seniors in Hartford Pubic Schools career academies and high schools during the 2018 winter or spring semesters. Internship hours range from six to eight hours a week, over 8 to 10 weeks.
"Hartford Public Schools thanks our partners for their support in providing creative education opportunities for our students, said schools' Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez. "The Hartford Student Internship Program will help students like Alexis to acquire valuable work experience in the real world. Engaging high school students in college and career development programs through partnerships like these is only one more example of our joint mission as a community to transform our schools into a District of Excellence."
Ten Hartford Public Schools will participate in the 2018 program, including Bulkeley High School as well as the Nursing and Health Sciences, Engineering and Green Technology, Journalism and Media Academies at Hartford Public High School (HPHS), and other career academies. A coordinator at HPS will support identifying students and matching worksites to career plans. The Center for Latino Progress serves as lead agency to work with HPS staff, employers to develop internships, and with other nonprofits supporting the program (Blue Hills Civic Association and Jr. Apprentice).
Over the 2017-18 Hartford Student Internship year (July 1, 2017-June 30th, 2018), a total of 400 students will receive internships or work-based learning experiences during the school year and/or summer):
All students supported by this 2018 winter/spring semester school-year grant will update resumes and career plans.
All employers will receive an orientation and employer handbook.
"The program is critical in providing what is often a first work experience for Hartford students," said Judy McBride, the Hartford Foundation's director of grants and partnership investments. "Most of us remember our first job and taking away important lessons—how to work with others, getting to work on time and other expectations, as well as having a chance to see what others do—and what not to do-- in a work-setting. Students will have the opportunity to draw on this experience throughout their work life."
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.