Worcester Youth Leadership Institute to Get Underway for  Area Young People on June 22

For Immediate Release
June 15, 2020

Media Contact: 
Sharyn T. Williams
VP Marketing and Communications
508.753.2924, ext. 231
swilliams@worcesterchamber.org

Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce leads program, now entering its seventh year, to introduce youth 15 – 21 to area businesses, civic leadership 

Worcester, Massachusetts—While many students traditionally have headed-off to summer vacations, for the past six years, some area high school and college students have participated in the Worcester Youth Leadership Institute. This year, the Institute will take on even greater significance as the world undergoes dramatic change resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. In years past, the program offered students an in-person, seven-week learning experience and exposure to a variety of businesses, Worcester industry, and mentors. This year, the experience will be virtual to protect the health of all involved. The Institute, is part of a broader effort by the Chamber of Commerce to develop and mentor Worcester’s future leaders.

The Institute is a partnership between the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, MassHire Central Workforce Board, the United Way of Central Massachusetts, United Families for Change, Worcester Community Action Council, and the City of Worcester’s Youth Opportunities Office with support from UniBank, Reliant Medical Group, and GFI Partners, the sponsors of this program.

“The goal is simple – expose Worcester’s young people to the myriad of businesses, leaders, mentors, and possibilities available in their own communities,” said Timothy Murray, president and CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. “These students are our future leaders. We want them to know and understand that their community can offer them a unique college experience and fascinating job opportunities, and provide insight and perspective on the city’s history, leadership, business community, and government make-up.”

Coordinated by Walter Jovel, the Institute identified 25 youth ages 15 – 21 who are participating in the city’s YouthWorks employment program and who were nominated by their employer. They are participating in a seven-week, virtual summer leadership program as part of their employment program.   

“We think this is an awesome opportunity to enhance our employment program,” said Jeff Turgeon, executive director, MassHire Central Workforce Board. “These students have already shown initiative by participating in the YouthWorks program, and by offering an extended learning experience outside of the typical workday, are able to give them a unique experience and hopefully a greater appreciation for their community.”

The Institute, which will run from June 22 – August 14, will introduce the participants to the business, government, education, and non-profit sectors in a variety of ways including talks and question and answer sessions with the leadership structures of various sectors and organizations.

“UniBank is honored to partner with the Chamber and Reliant Medical Group and GFI Partners in sponsoring this year’s Worcester Youth Leadership Institute. Such programs are essential at this time – allowing each of us, as individuals and as community organizations to learn from one another and to enrich one another – thus making our community one that is tight knit and mutually supportive. UniBank’s involvement in our community over the past 150 years – is made manifest through our giving back to a community that has given us so much. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to sponsor such a life transformative experience,” said UniBank CEO, Michael Welch.

“We believe that supporting the Youth Leadership Institute is an important investment in our community,” says Linda Coccola, chief administrative officer at Reliant Medical Group. “It is very gratifying to be associated with a program that uniquely prepares Worcester’s youth for bright futures.”

Students will start the program with a full-week leadership training program facilitated by the Worcester Community Action Council. The summer curriculum will also include a skills development component. Topics will include leadership focus areas from the Worcester fabric, such as entrepreneurism, economic development, life and health sciences, non-profit organizations, and city government.

The program launched in 2014 after conversations between Tim Murray, and George Smith and Ron Scott from United Families for Change, as well as Mayor Joseph Petty, City Manager Edward Augustus, and City Councilors Philip Palmieri and Sarai Rivera. All of the partner organizations came together and have graduated 100 students over the past 6 years.

“We want to continue to engage graduates from previous summers to help build a sense of community for future and past participants in this program,” stated Raquel Castro-Corazzini, Youth Opportunities Coordinator for the City of Worcester.

#          #          #