BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA PREPARES TEENS FOR JOBS OF THE FUTURE
September 23, 2020
For the past 130 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania has built a rich legacy of being one of the most comprehensive youth services providers in both Allegheny and Somerset counties by living out our mission to activate and advance the potential in every child by doing whatever it takes to ensure they have GREAT FUTURES.
Currently, BGCWPA serves over 15,000 youth annually in Western Pennsylvania from ages 3-18, including 2,000 teens served directly at our Clubhouses and another 3,500 teens served through our services and outreach. We have 15 program sites across Allegheny and Somerset counties, including a stand-alone youth workforce development center with expansion programs that is set to add new locations this year. Seventy percent of the youth we serve qualify for free and reduced lunch across all locations, and in four locations nearly 100 percent of the children we serve live at or below the poverty line. Our multitude of programs and services support the whole child through both the traditional Boys & Girls Clubs programs we are known for – such as mentoring through after-school recreation and sports; and through newer career development, academic support, STEM and mental health and wellness programs.
After over a decade of offering informal career development programming, two years ago BGCWPA launched new teen programming, including the Healthy Lifestyles program to promote social emotional wellness and Career Works youth workforce development programs, including the Artificial Intelligence Pathways Institute, which exposes youth to careers in STEM through project-based learning, professional mentorship and work-based learning experiences. Our focus on delivering programming that develops teens through all aspects of their lives is intended to increase youth and young adult life skills and power skills a.k.a. “soft skills,” to provide a solid ground on which to build career awareness, readiness and accessibility. Youth in BGCWPA Teen and Career programs are ultimately offered the opportunity to enter our job training pathways in the Career Works Tech track which includes summer internships and industry partner based apprenticeships to provide local employers with reliable and outstanding job applicants while giving our participants a secure career pathway.
The Career Works program has five tracks, four of which we are currently running:
- Career Works High – A program for high school students ages 14-16 that is focused on soft skill development, academic support and remediation in core areas like math, career exploration and mentoring, field based learning, summer employment experiences and building self-identity and confidence.
- Artificial Intelligence Pathways Institute – A pioneering program, the first of its kind in the nation, that is focused on exposing teens to AI/Robotics careers in a summer intensive, school-year hardware and software accelerator where the teens are given office space, earn a wage of $10 an hour and connect to pre-apprentice programming to become a robotics technician through our partnership with NVIDIA, PPG and Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy.
- Great Start, Level Up – Adjudicated youth learn about healthy lifestyles, work in our Clubhouses with a mentor, receive one-on-one coaching and gain access to credit recovery in the summer.
- Career Works Tech – A newly launched program that provides occupational skill training, internships, apprenticeship and advanced academic support and career placement services. We currently have five teens participating in pre-apprentice programming in STEM, and 40 in Artificial Intelligence. We look forward to the start of our third track in Transportation & Logistics, as well as additional tracks being launched in 2021.