Learning the jobs of tomorrow
Before connecting with After School Matters, Touré Kodzo Apawu was applying for jobs at fast food restaurants and big box stores. It was his high school counselor who introduced him to the Chicago-based nonprofit, which prepares teens for the jobs of the future by matching them with hands-on apprenticeships and internships. Apawu wasn’t interested at first, thinking participation meant extra schoolwork. He later enrolled in an arts-based apprenticeship and appreciated the learning and networking experience. It’s what led to his enrollment at East West University and his summer internship at Jarvis Corp, which manufactures LED light fixtures. “Engineering and electronics – that’s the future,” said Apawu. “To have this miracle of a blessing at such a young age is just perfect.”
Expanding career opportunities
Vicpatrick Harris didn’t hold jobs during high school, because he was determined to make basketball his career. He earned an athletic scholarship, but dedicated the summer before his freshman year to school and work. After School Matters offered the Chicago Public School graduate an apprenticeship and later an internship at Synergy Construction Group, a general contracting and construction management firm. There, he’s working as an accounts payable clerk and acclimating to the office environment. The work has inspired him to pursue a major in finance or business administration, and has boosted his confidence in applying for future jobs. “To work in an office environment, it’s a whole new ballgame, said Harris.”
Building the future workforce
The summer internships Apawu and Harris enjoyed are part of After School Matters’ effort to keep local students off the streets and on the path to success. The organization serves 22,000 students with programing during the school year and summer, impacting more than 100,000 students to date. What started as a program to introduce high school students to the arts has become a nationally recognized model for introducing them to the workforce. “Sometimes young people have been through a great deal and they don’t have a lot of hope for the future,” said Mary Ellen Caron, CEO. “For them to meet someone who takes an interest in them, tells them about their passion for their career and offers them the opportunity to see what a career would be – that’s so important.”
Sustaining a commitment to community
Bank of America has contributed more than $1 million to After School Matters since the organization was founded in 1991 by then-First Lady Maggie Daley. Today, the bank provides a combination of funding, counsel and service under the leadership of Illinois Market President Tim Maloney. Bank volunteers tell participating students about their careers and show them how to manage their earnings. They encourage students to follow Maloney’s advice and “let this be the beginning of something great.” It’s part of a bigger commitment to ensuring the future health and success of Chicago’s communities.