Boys & Girls Village prepares students for life after school
More than 36,800 Connecticut high school seniors will graduate this month, and while some will pursue a college or postsecondary degree-path others will join the workforce. But are they prepared? According to Education World, many employers feel that students do not have the right skills to make the transition from school to the workplace.
Boys & Girls Village’s (BGV) Work To Learn program is working to change that. The program provides at-risk 16 to 21-year-old students with hands-on work experience at one of BGV’s student-led businesses, which includes Meatball Heaven, Do Me A Favor and Design IQ & Print. The program teaches participants about business operations as well as how to market and sell their products or services.
Work To Learn also incorporates life skill lessons into the program. Students are partnered with a job coach and learn about appropriate work attire, interview preparation, and general workplace etiquette. They also take financial literacy courses, which focuses on goal setting, banking, budgeting, shopping, saving, investing, credit and identity theft.
Students are then encouraged to open their own bank accounts, and based on their successful participation in the skills training classes , the students are eligible to receive a 100 percent match in savings to go toward purchasing a necessary asset such as a computer, car or housing. Recently, nine students have opened either individual development accounts (IDAs), certificate of deposit (CDs) or personal bank accounts – and BGV has matched up to $20,000.
“Many of our students grew up in a distressed environment and don’t always have influencers at home to guide them through the transition from school to the workforce,” said Dr. Steven Kant, President and CEO, BVG. “Our Work To Learn program better prepares these students for a future career and provides them with the skills they need to succeed and achieve economic self-sufficiency.”
To date, the program has helped 181 students and every graduating student has enrolled in a post-secondary or vocational school.
“Work To Learn changed my life and my thinking,” said Client, BGV. “The skills I learned were survival skills for someone in my position. Now I have job experience and feel more confident about my future as a whole.”
BGV is located in Milford and is one of five agencies in Connecticut to provide a Work To Learn program for kids and young adults in the State’s foster care system. All of the proceeds from the Work To Learn enterprises support the program and students.
For more information about BGV and its Work To Learn program, visit www.bgvillage.org/programs/work-to-learn/.