Nine youth reentry programs in Pennsylvania are receiving awards totaling more than $5 million in grant funding, Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy Walker announced on Wednesday.
The funding supports reentry programs that prepare young Pennsylvanians for employment or post-secondary education and aim to reduce the recidivism rate.
The nine local workforce development boards (LWDBS) will work in partnership with the state’s juvenile justice system, PA CareerLink offices, community organizations, and academic programs to recruit, re-engage, and assist young adults ages 18-24 who were incarcerated or have interacted with Pennsylvania’s judicial system.
Among the LWDBS and youth re-entry programs awarded funding were the Berks County Workforce Development Board ($800,000) and the South Central Workforce Development Board that includes Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties ($450,000).
Walker said in a statement that youth reentry programs provide young people the tools and resources needed to gain lifelong skills and good-paying jobs and help local employers reach an untapped labor pool.
The programs are expected to provide in-demand job training, re-entry support services, mentorship, higher education opportunities, and family-sustaining career pathways.
The U.S. Department of Labor, as part of its Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative, announced the selection of the initial cohort of 207 officials and organizations chosen to serve as Apprenticeship Ambassadors.
The ambassadors will share their experiences and collaborate with the department to champion apprenticeship opportunities, the department said.
In November 2021, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative to bring together industry, labor, education, equity and workforce leaders to partner with the department’s Office of Apprenticeship to promote Registered Apprenticeships as a valuable workforce strategy in high-demand industries to develop and expand opportunities for people historically underserved.
The inaugural group of Apprenticeship Ambassadors consists of diverse partners from multiple industries who have demonstrated a willingness to use their Registered Apprenticeship experience and expertise to promote and expand these programs across all industries.
The cohort is comprised of community-based organizations, educators, employers, industry associations, labor organizations, workforce partners, equity partners and state organizations, the department said.
The ambassadors have committed to hosting 3,367 outreach and recruitment activities, 892 training session and 717 promotional meetings. They have also pledged to develop 460 new Registered Apprenticeship programs and 387 resources in their first year as ambassadors.
The department’s Office of Apprenticeship will collaborate with Apprenticeship Ambassadors to promote Registered Apprenticeship as part of the department’s commemoration of the 85th Anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act on Aug. 16. The commemoration will continue through the remainder of the year, and include National Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 14-20.
An idea to bring underserved communities in Dauphin County information on creating wealth turned into a successful center for innovation and entrepreneurship for central Pennsylvania.
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, with a mission to help the underserved receive educational opportunities, started the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) about three years ago.
Today, that center is recognized as forward thinking and successful, in part because it is led by a well-respected entrepreneur and not an academic, said John Sider, vice president of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania, which collaborates with the center.
The entrepreneur, Jay Jayamohan, was recruited by the university to help the community understand what funding opportunities exist and how to start a business.
Jayamohan said he leads the effort that strategically positions HU to have a greater impact – economic and social, by having innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs from in and around Central Pennsylvania coming together with students and faculty to collaborate on ideas and solve problems.
After initially turning the job down, a board of trustee’s member convinced him that while larger regions are attractive, the central Pennsylvania region had nothing like this and he could make a greater impact here, he said.
He does this with his team which includes Jamal Jones, MaDonna Awotwi and Michael Hughes.
“Our goal is to create an economic ecosystem that can compete with other areas,” he said. “Our focus is on training the next generation of entrepreneurs, creating technological advancements and scientific discoveries through new startups and fostering innovation here at HU and throughout the area.”
The focus is on those who are economically disadvantaged and minority populations, he said.
Jayamohan said models like this center exist in areas with large universities and they work. “This shows that we can develop economies in smaller areas.”
The center has three main programs: the launchU, a Shark Tank-like program for high school students and community members to bring business ideas forward; The Blend, a program that offers information and expert advice to companies in their infancy; and an incubator which provides space and four paid student workers to help startups build.
Joy Boudreau, who took part in The Blend’s Business Acceleration Program, won more than $8,000 for her business, Joy of Events Group LLC. The six-week program sponsored by M&T Bank helped her establish credit, create a business plan and gain access to capital, among other things, she said.
“It culminated with a pitch to the judges, and it means a lot,” she said. “It has given me credibility and exposure.”
The incubator, which Jayamohan said gives startup businesses about $100,000 worth of space and labor for up to 18 months, currently has eight companies.
“This provides powerful support right here in the region,” he said. In fact, the program has been so successful, HU is opening new space in Strawberry Square by late fall to make room for 20 more companies.
One of Jayamohan’s success stories is a black woman who is a veteran with PTSD. He said she created a communication app that keeps veterans with emotional and addiction issues connected so after they leave rehabilitation programs, they are not on their own.
“Here’s where we are helping founders that are rooted here solve problems that are found here,” he said.
Do you have a mentor? If not, are you a mentor for others? If you answered no to both of those questions, I think you should give consideration to either getting a mentor or being one.
If you’re struggling with my questions, perhaps you don’t understand what a mentor is and does. I’ve asked several groups over the years if anyone knew the origin of the word mentor. It’s surprising, though perhaps shouldn’t be, that most people have no idea.
Mentor is a character in Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey,” required reading when I was a young man, though unfortunately not today. While Odysseus, king of Ithaca, is away fighting in the Trojan War, the goddess Athena watches over his young son Telemachus. She appears to him with advice and guidance, disguised as Mentor, an old friend of Odysseus.
A mentor has come to be defined as a trusted guide or advisor, and one who provides this guidance without any thought of compensation. In the modern definition, a mentor is someone you can talk to confidentially about career choices or life choices. It falls into the category of servant leadership.
A good mentor has traveled the road that the mentee is now travelling and knows what lies beyond each fork in the road. A good mentor doesn’t judge the mentee and keeps everything discussed in confidence. Not all advice is taken, and a good mentor isn’t an “I told you so.”
At work, you might not be comfortable discussing your career choices, difficult work-related problems, or your own perceived weaknesses with your boss or your peers. A mentor can be someone who works for your employer, but who is outside your chain of command. Or it could be an outside individual who understands your profession or business.
When making life choices outside of work, it can be helpful to have someone to talk to who isn’t a family member or close friend. A good mentor can help you feel free to be completely open and confident that your musings aren’t going to be shared with anyone else.
In my own career experience I’ve had a couple of good mentors, but I know now that I didn’t do enough to seek out mentors to advise me at several key points in my career. Everything worked out, but it would have been so much easier if I had sought someone to help guide me. To work with a mentor, you have to start by admitting to yourself that you need help.
At all stages of your career and personal life, I strongly recommend that you seek out mentors. People at the top of many professions have advisors, coaches and guides. That’s one reason they are at the top of their professions. Why shouldn’t you, especially if you can find a good mentor who wants nothing more than to be helpful.
Once you’ve gained experience, I hope you’ll consider becoming a mentor. I have mentored a number of people in business. I help run a mentoring program for engineering students at Penn State and I mentor mid-career professionals through a leadership program here in York. There are plenty of opportunities to mentor others.
It’s easy to sit back and complain about the younger people coming behind us, but why not be a resource that helps them develop more fully and quickly? What could be more rewarding than helping another person grow and develop?
Think about mentoring. Get a good mentor or be a good mentor.
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