Chamber Receives $100K for Program in Austintown Schools

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Education awarded the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber a $100,000 grant to implement its Community Connectors school mentorship program in the Austintown Local School District.

“This grant will expose our students to positive role models right here in our community who could potentially guide them towards a future career path,” says  Austintown Schools superintendent Vince Colaluca.

Community Connectors is aimed at making students in grades 11 and 12 workforce ready. The program matches students to job and mentorship opportunities, as well as provide job shadowing and internship and externship opportunities, all within the local business community. Students in the program learn basic jobs skills such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, time management, team collaboration and appropriate dress for the workplace.

“Soft skills and professional skills are essential not only for students but for adults, as well, when going through interview processes and other avenues of employment,” says Nick Santucci, manager of education and workforce development at the chamber.

While the chamber had received grants to implement and then continue the Community Connectors program in the Youngstown City Schools in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, and also implement the program in the Warren City Schools for the 2016-2017 school year, the Ohio Department of Education opted to not renew the grants for those cities for 2017-2018, suggesting that these programs should now become self sustaining.

“We are clearly disappointed that Youngstown and Warren’s grants were not renewed,” said Santucci. “However, we are very proud of the work that we were able to accomplish the past two years with the students in those districts and plan to explore all options to determine whether the programs may be sustained within the schools and with our partners.”

While initial expectation for student participation in Youngstown was 100, more than 150 students enrolled last year, and all 150 were placed into job opportunities. In Warren, 32 of 43 participating students were placed into jobs.

In order to be eligible to participate in the Community Connector program, students must have a 2.0 GPA and be recommended by a teacher.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.