Newest Member to the Coolest Team!

We’re excited to welcome a new staff member to the Youth Strategies Unit at the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity. Jerome Walker joins the team as the Career Pathways Manager and will be leading the units annual career exposure, job readiness and internship opportunities for young people.  

Jerome is a North Philadelphia native that brings years of experience in Higher Education from Black and Latino/a student recruitment and programming at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, academic/career advising, program management, and community initiatives at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina, and partnerships, alumni connections and post-graduate career planning from Temple University College of Liberal Arts. Jerome also has experience with social entrepreneurship and innovation from time spent at City Startup Labs that he notes have helped him rethink career options and success for African American communities.

In his own words, Jerome shared:   

“My return back to Philly has deepened my appreciation of our rich culture and an unapologetic passion to combat income inequality. I’m excited to join the CEO family and look forward to developing intentional programming, partnering with companies and organizations that will help our youth gain practical experience. My goal is to arm our youth with many resources, experiences and opportunities with hopes that they recognize their talent and skills to assist in identifying the best career option post high school!”

Welcome Jerome!

Sayre Team Orientation Thoughts

Over the past few weeks, the Promise Corps team has been engaging in many activities as they prepare to start this upcoming school year. Our Sayre team, Abu, Chamoya, Ke’Ana, Jerron, and Sebastian are so excited as they have been working hard to make sure this virtual school year is enjoyable and impactful. Promise Corps orientation was the kickstart needed to get our coaches pumped and ready for this upcoming year. Over the course of 9 days, our team engaged in many professional development sessions, team-building activities, and creative outlets for us to get to know each other. 

Let’s take a look at what the Sayre team thought of this year’s orientation and what they’re looking forward to during this 2020-2021 school year! 

What was your favorite professional development training and why?

Abu reflected on his professional development training and shared that he really enjoyed the training on active listening.  

“Usually, when I engage in a conversation with someone, I listen to give a response instead of simply listening,” said Abu. “However, recently after receiving the training on active listening, I have been practicing how to listen more attentively.” 

Chamoya agreed with Abu! “We were able to role play and take away valuable information that will help us connect with our students.”

What was your favorite team building activity and why?

There were so many amazing team building activities that the Sayre team found it hard to choose just one favorite.

According to Jerron, his favorite was the child abuse/mandated reporting scenarios. “It was nice to get a refresher on the process of reporting abuse, especially in a high school setting.” He said, “In addition, it allowed me to grab a better understanding of my team and how they would operate in certain situations.

Ke’Ana’s favorite on the other hand, was the activity where everyone had to work together as a virtual adult to see how long they could survive living in poverty.  

“It was interesting to see how we all were pretty quick to throw some moral standards away in order to survive,” Ke’ana said. “For a lot of families living in Philadelphia, this is a reality. This activity was a great reminder for me that you really cannot judge a book by it’s cover.”

What are you looking forward to this school year?

The Sayre team all agree that they cannot wait to meet and grow a relationship with their students! Sebastian said that he is “looking forward to learning the names and stories of each of the people I will come into contact with throughout this year.” Chamoya mentioned that she is “looking forward to helping students navigate this new virtual school setting and motivating them to do their best.”

If you had to describe your team in just three words, what would they be?

According to Sebastian, the Sayre team is “READY FOR ACTION!” Abu believes his teammates are “resilient, compassionate and determined.” The team all agree that they are motivated and excited to continue to get to know one another but also to have an awesome school year with their Sayre family!

Ke’Ana Robinson – Sayre High School College and Career Coach

Closing WorkReady: The One Where We Were Quarantined!

We have successfully closed out Summer WorkReady 2020!!—But more about that soon!!

During our last week of programming, our youth completed their final Naviance activities! Our internship participants completed activities in digital literacy like creating a personal statement, writing their elevator pitch and a creating support network. Our work experience participants also completed activities in digital literacy as well as participated in a workshop called “Public Speaking 101: Giving the Elevator Pitch Live.” In this workshop, we had guest speaker, Alissa Steele, advertising specialist for the Phillies. She shared her experience in advertising and marketing and shared how important it is to brand ourselves well! Our youth performed their elevator pitches live with Alissa, who shared tips to edit their elevator pitches, if needed. 

On Friday, August 21st, we hosted a grab-and-go event to thank our participants and their families for being apart! Participants received a certificate of completion and some “swag” that included a backpack, some cool accessories for their cell phones and a t-shirt to commemorate our summer experience! We also provided parents/guardians with a tote bag and t-shirt. Lastly, we were able to award each participant an additional $100 for completing the program this summer; a surprise to all our participants!

At the completion of this summer, our youth now have a few recipes they learned, new plants they continue to grow and they participated in other activities for life development! We also had a few summer successes: two of our youth successfully obtained part-time jobs in the Philadelphia area and five of our youth successfully started their post-secondary education in the Philadelphia area and abroad.

This summer experience has been one for the books! While this summer had its own set of challenges, it also demonstrated the ability to create non-traditional programs and work experiences to better serve our youth in Philadelphia! We applaud our youth for showing resilience through the entire process.

We would like to thank Executive Director Mitch Litter, Deputy Executive Director Sharon Clinton and the staff at the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) for your support and assistance throughout our summer program. Thank you to the Youth Strategies Unit for assisting with implementation and facilitation of programming, especially to Zoraida Cordero and Marylissa Barbosa-Fish for stepping up to lead sessions and Tameka Williams for creating and leading the entire home gardening curriculum. We would also like to thank all of our guest speakers for their time, energy and knowledge. Lastly, thank you to our participants and their families! They endured through the changes of WorkReady and participated in the entire program virtually! They have persevered through many challenges within the last few months and we are proud of all of them for successfully completing Summer WorkReady 2020! We wish them well for this new school year!

School of the Future Reflects on Orientation and Looks Ahead to Coming School Year

These past three weeks, the School of the Future team has been getting excited about starting
the school year in a virtual setting. Rather than seeing this COVID-19 environment as a setback,
Emma, Kaitlin, Sierra, Abbey, and Olivia have been enjoying orientation and have drawn
inspiration for how to keep students engaged from behind their computer screens in the coming
months. Over Zoom, this year’s Promise Corps orientation has featured many instructive
professional development sessions, team-building activities, and creative ways for the whole
cohort to get to know each other. Below, the School of the Future team reflected on the
highlights of orientation and the aspects of the school year they are looking forward to the most.
What was your favorite professional development training and why?
Olivia says her favorite training was the presentation on cultural competence led by Brandon
Brown, a technical consultant for the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.
“I really enjoyed it because I believe cultural competence is an extremely important topic to be
discussed to ensure we are embracing diverse environments and classrooms as College and
Career Coaches,” Olivia said. “I also enjoyed this training because it allowed for us to dive deep
into our own beliefs, values, and identities to discover what biases we may have. It was very
eye-opening and informative.”
What was your favorite team building activity and why?
While the two weeks of orientation were filled with almost too many ice breakers and team building
activities to count, Sierra said her favorite was on the last day where the school teams were asked to
create a skit based on the crazy outfits they had worn for Wacky Tuesday. As the SOF team all came
dressed as characters from The Grinch, their skit was a Christmas-themed story about a rivalry between
Santa Clause and the Grinch (pictured below).
Another popular team builder was the music life maps, where members shared key songs that have been
important to them throughout their lives.
“Not only were they fun to make, but it was fascinating to learn what genres of music everyone is currently
into, as well as what shaped them throughout their lives leading up to this point,” said Emma.
What are you looking forward to this school year?
All of the SOF team agrees that the part of this year they are looking forward to the most is getting to work
with the students!
“I am most excited for seeing the growth within our students this year,” said Abbey. “I think seeing growth
is one of the most rewarding feelings. So much can happen within the span of the school year and seeing
our amazing students grow into young men and women is an amazing thing.”
In addition to making connections with the scholars and staff at SOF, Sierra said she is looking forward to
growing professionally and learning more about Philly, as this is the first time she is living in the city.
If you had to describe your team in just three words, what would they be?
According to Emma, the team is some “Seriously Outstanding Females (SOF!).” Other teammates would
describe themselves as dedicated, creative, collaborative, and supportive. Overall, these five teammates
have enjoyed the last couple weeks getting to know each other and their PC cohort, as well as getting
ready to work together to bring West Philly students an awesome school year.

Kaitlin Junod- College and Career Coach at School of the Future

Financial and Digital Literacy!

We are in our last week of Summer WorkReady 2020! Last week, our youth completed a variety of activities in Financial and Digital Literacy activities.

Our internship participants completed activities in Digital Literacy. In these activities, they learned tips for staying safe online, composing professional emails and they learned how to perform informational interviews. In the technological age that we are in, it is very important that our youth understand the importance of staying safe online and building a positive digital footprint!

Our work experience participants completed the remainder of activities in Financial Literacy. Last week, they completed activities in creating a budget, learning how to track their spending and apps they can use to track their spending. Our work experience participants also participated in Part 2 of our Loans Workshop. We had guest speakers from Santander Bank inform our participants about loans, credit reports and credit scores. Our speakers from Santander went in-depth and taught our participants about reading their credit reports. They gave a wealth of knowledge to help prepare our participants to secure their financial future!

Friday was our last interactive weekly meeting-Adulting 101. Our participants will make a mug cake as a celebration! They also learned new plant maintenance techniques and participate in a creativity prompt where they created a photo, poem or song that explains what a community looks like to them! We have had some amazing moments this summer and we are very excited to celebrate next week! Look out for more pictures of our plants from this week!

Already Half Way Through?!

We have finisihed Week 3 of Summer WorkReady and we are halfway through our program!! Last week focused on Financial Literacy! Our youth completed digital activities in understanding education costs vs. job salaries and learning about debt.

Our internship participants (ages 12-13) also completed activities in understanding credit cards, pay checks and bank accounts.

Our work experience participants (14-18) participated in part 1 of an interactive workshop on loans, where they received basic information on loans. Did you know that there 4 parts of every loan? Our youth can tell you what they are thanks to representatives from Santander Bank. During the workshop, we asked youth “What would they like to buy in 5 years.” Youth answers ranged from laptops and gaming setups, to cars, apartments and homes! Our youth will participate in part 2 of the workshop in coming weeks, where they will learn more about loans including student, car and home loans!

MMMMMH Yummy Mac & Cheese!

Last Friday, for our interactive life skills meeting, we are making Mac and Cheese using the microwave and a mug (a great meal idea for our students going to college and living in dorms)! Students will also transfer their germinated seeds from last Friday to dirt. Shoutout to Promise Corps Site Coordinator Tameka Williams for teaching us how to start our urban garden! Lastly, our Promise Corps Manager, Zoraida Cordero will lead our youth through mindfulness exercises. With all that our youth have been dealing with, including the transition from in-person to virtual learning and practicing social distancing from friends and staff members that they trust, we think that it’s important to teach our youth exercises where they can center themselves in the midst of transition and changes. Look out for updates about today’s life skills meeting! #Allin4WorkReady #FinancialLiteracy #Loans #Debt #Credit #LifeSkills #Adulting101

Learning to start a mini garden!