Program entering sixth year, led by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, to introduce high school students to area businesses, civic leadership

Worcester, Mass. – While many students head off to summer vacations, some area high schoolers will have an opportunity to participate in the second annual Worcester Youth Leadership Institute. 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. Sponsorship support is provided by Reliant Medical Group and GFI Partners.

The institute will offer students a seven-week learning experience and exposure to a variety of businesses, Worcester landmarks, and local mentors. Starting June 28 and ending Aug. 9, WYLI is part of a broader effort by the Chamber to develop and mentor Worcester’s future leaders.

“The goal is simple – expose high schoolers to a myriad of businesses, leaders, mentors, and possibilities available in their own communities,” said Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO of the Chamber. “These students are our future leaders. We want them to know and understand their community can offer a unique college experience, 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 will identify 25 15- to 21 year-olds who are participating in the city’s YouthWorks program. Selected students, who were nominated by their YouthWorks employer, will participate in a seven-week, four-hour per day summer leadership program as part of their employment program.

“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, we will be able to give them a unique experience and hopefully a greater appreciation for their community.”

Students will visit one to two sites each week and participate in a leadership training program facilitated by the Worcester Community Action Council. The curriculum will also include a skills development component of which topics will include leadership focus areas from the Worcester fabric such as entrepreneurism, economic development, life and health sciences, nonprofit organizations, and city government.

The program launched in 2014 after conversations last year between Tim Murray, George Smith and Ron Scott from United Families for Change, as well as Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, City Manager Edward Augustus, and City Councilors Philip Palmieri and Sarai Rivera.

Over the past five years, one hundred students have graduated from the WYLI program.