For the student participants of the Great Promise Partnership, sometimes it’s the promise part that is the most important.
“With Great Promise Partnership, we realized that so many of these young people have had promises broken to them,” said the nonprofit’s President and CEO Mike Beatty. “When we came up with the name, that’s our promise to these young people that no matter what tough situations or where they are coming from, if they the course and stay in the program, then our promise is that we are going to help them really catapult a career that will be there the rest of their lives.”
So, the Partnership strives strive every day to keep these promises, of working with at-risk teens to help them gain real-world job skills and training, all while still earning their high school diploma.
Working with employers across the state, the program provides a qualified workforce for in-need businesses, while mentoring and supporting the student-employees.
Students involved in the program are identified by their home school district as potentially at-risk of dropping out of high school. With the Great Promise Partnership, they themselves promise to take part in the work program, earning a paycheck and learning critical professional skills.
To keep their job, and their end of the bargain, they must continue to go to school. In fact, on the days they don’t go to school, they are not allowed to work. And if they drop out, they lose their job entirely.
“They are motivated to stay in school and graduate,” Beatty said. “There is something magic about earning a paycheck that makes you feel like you are part of society and you are getting things done.”
The organization partners with 35 different companies, and more than 1800 students take part every year. Students typically work 15-20 hours a week–though some work more–all after school. Beatty says that once they graduate from high school, about one third goes on to college, on third goes on to the military, and one third stays working with the company.
A former football coach, Beatty uses a similar coaching approach to prepare these young kids for their jobs and beyond.
“You kind of have to treat this like building a pipeline for a football team,” he said. “You have to get these folks coached up with the fundamentals of being able to go to work. Once they get that confidence, and they walk out on the plant floor, or into the office, they are prepared. They go in there, and they are going to be successful.”
Beatty says the program works, and improves the students’ attendance, discipline, and provides them the opportunity to learn from mentors and tutors.
“When you provide the mentorship, the life skills, and those opportunities, the young people really thrive,” he said. “That little discipline really makes a difference, when they have people around them that really care.”
To learn more about the Great Promise Partnership, including how you can volunteer or get your company involved, visit them online at www.gppartnership.org.