Last June, the Ohio Department of Education selected and awarded $89 million in Summer Learning and Afterschool Opportunities Grants to 161 community-based partners out of more than 700 applications from across the state. Locally, $1.9 million was awarded in two grants to Succeed, Prosper, Ashland, Richland, Crawford (SPARC ) Council, one to create summer programming in summer 2022, 2023, and 2024, and one to create after-school programming, with fiscal oversight from Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center.
The 2023 READY FOR HIRE Summer Program took place in Morrow, Crawford, and Richland counties, with each county partnering with local businesses and organizations to provide students with a variety of evidence-based career readiness activities and opportunities including paid summer internships.
In Morrow County, READY FOR HIRE partnered with Selover Public Library and offered programming that provided high school students with a blend of career-focused activities and essential life skills. The program aimed to prepare the students for future job opportunities by immersing them in emerging technologies and imparting practical skills that are critical for success in the professional world. Some activities students participated in included LEGO Education Spike Prime, Sphero Robots, and 3-D printing. Students also learned essential skills like how to tie a tie and how to dress for success in interviews.
Similarly, READY FOR HIRE partnered with Bucyrus Public Library in Crawford County. In addition to promoting literacy and learning, students engaged in numerous STEM activities and career-based projects including growing hydroponics, building a solar oven, and learning 3-D printing. The summer program allowed students to choose a variety of career activities that targeted their strengths and interests.
Abraxas and FIRST schools in Richland County also offered summer programming. Abraxas had a selection of career-based clubs for students to pick from, including the Book for Life Club, 3-D Printing Club, Architectural Design and Engineering Club, and Music Careers Club. Julie Pfeifer stated, “I feel that the READY FOR HIRE Summer Programming is extremely beneficial to our students as it allows them to experience a variety of opportunities that they would not have had otherwise.”
At FIRST, 40 students attended intensive training classes to become certified in CPR/AED. Chris Jones, a READY FOR HIRE teacher, stated, “The students were all excited and engaged with every activity involved in this process and were proud of their accomplishments.”
FIRST also offered a gardening program, which included a field trip to Groovy Plants Ranch in Marengo. Students also worked in FIRST’s on-site greenhouse and are currently caring for mums and pitcher plants, learning about careers in agriculture.
In addition, READY FOR HIRE partnered with RNI and Richland Newhope to create a five-week hands-on program where students visited local businesses to learn job readiness skills.
“Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities is beyond thrilled with the partnership between Mid-Ohio ESC, RNI, Inc., and RCBDD. READY FOR HIRE was a huge success this summer with transition-aged youth, parents, community businesses, and organizations for building employment skills and life skills. We are thankful we can use this partnership to give students with disabilities opportunities to become successful employees and be a part of their community.”
Additionally, READY FOR HIRE worked with students for paid summer internships through the Youth & Family Council.
Selover Public Library, Bucyrus Public Library, Abraxas, and FIRST will continue the READY FOR HIRE program into the school year. In addition, students will have opportunities at the Tomorrow Center in Morrow County and Crestview High School in Richland County.
Bucyrus Public Library Director Stephanie Buchanan is enthusiastic about the partnership, saying, “The Bucyrus Public Library is excited to collaborate with Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center on their READY FOR HIRE program. We have created an entertaining way for students to explore potential STEAM careers. The young adults will be able to research different career pathways in a fun environment, helping them to explore new opportunities and narrow down their options for the future. This program is a marvelous opportunity for Crawford County young adults. We are very proud of it!”
Submitted by the Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center.