With the help of Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s participation in the City of Pittsburgh’s Learn & Earn program, Kiwana Kennedy, an 18-year-old high school senior, applied to the summer program and was placed in an internship at JF&CS’s Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry (SHCFP). There, she spent her summer helping to greet and sign in clients, process paperwork and stock pantry shelves–which ended up being a perfect fit.
“I want to be a social worker,” Kiwana said, “and SHCFP is one of the best pantries.”
Benefiting teens and young adults between the ages 14-21, Learn & Earn, formerly the Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program (PSYEP), chooses several area agencies, including JF&CS, to match youth from neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh with paid internship opportunities with employers for six weeks during the summer. The program helps teens and young adults gain valuable skills to prepare them for joining the workforce or continuing their education after high school, and for many of the participants, this internship is their first experience in the workforce.
At her internship, Kiwana spent the past six weeks helping SHCFP clients. She became a friendly, familiar face to many families and individuals, and the experience helped her break out of her shy demeanor.
“If I hadn’t been part of the program, I would have just been sitting around all summer,” she said. “This actually helped me become a social butterfly.”
This summer, JF&CS placed 28 interns at 8 sites, including the SHCFP, the Jewish Association on Aging’s facilities (The Residence at Weinberg Village, Weinberg Terrace Personal Care Residence, Charles Morris Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and the Anathan Club), as well as the Jewish Community Center, Small Seeds Development, Inc. and Off the Floor Pittsburgh. In addition to learning job-readiness skills such as attendance, punctuality, work quality and appropriate business attire, the participants were mentored along the way to ensure continued success throughout the program. They received guidance on taking initiative, following direction and respecting supervisors, clients and people from various cultures, races and religions. Of the 28 participants, 26 completed the summer program.
For more than six years, JF&CS has partnered with local employers to provide young adults with opportunities to experience the human service and business aspects of local agencies first-hand, helping motivated youth take the first steps toward building their careers and futures in our region.
Jeanne Williams, career and employment counselor at JF&CS’s Career Development Center coordinates the program.
“Learn & Earn is a wonderful opportunity and preventative tool for youth throughout our city,” she said, “We’re so grateful to the City of Pittsburgh and the Mayor’s office for believing in the importance and potential of our youth. Learn & Earn allows young adults to access opportunities they would not have been able to otherwise, preparing them for the real-world situations that lie ahead–and hopefully preventing them from falling into at-risk situations in the future.”
JF&CS provides additional programs and services for youth and at-risk young adults in our communities. For more information about additional programs, contact Jeanne Williams at 412-586-3725 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Erin Barr at 412-586-3720 or email@example.com.