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

Worcester, Massachusetts—While many students head-off to summer vacations, some area high school students 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, the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, the United Way of Central Massachusetts, United Families for Change, Worcester Education Collaborative, Worcester Community Action Council and the City of Worcester’s Youth Opportunities Office with support from Reliant Medical Group and GFI Partners who are sponsors of this program.

The Institute will offer students a seven-week learning experience and exposure to a variety of businesses, Worcester landmarks, and mentors. The Institute, which will begin the week of July 6, is part of a broader effort by the Chamber of Commerce to develop and mentor Worcester’s future leaders.

“The goal is simple – expose high schools students 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 Orfa Torres, the Institute will identify 25 high school students who are entering their junior or senior year next fall and will participate in the city’s YouthWorks program. The students, who were nominated by their YouthWorks employer, will participate in a seven-week, four-hour a day 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, Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment 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.”

The Institute, which will run from July 6 – August 21, will introduce the selected high school students to the business, government, education and non-profit sectors in a variety of ways; including talks, question and answer sessions with the leadership structures of various sectors and organizations, visits, tours and sessions at a number of venues.

Students will visit one or two sites every week and participate in a leadership training program called Bounce! offered through Workforce Central Career Center. The curriculum will also include a skills development component. Topics will include leadership focus areas from the Worcester fabric, such as entrepreneurism, Worcester history and culture, life and health sciences, non-profit organizations, media and communications, and city government.

The program launched in 2014 after conversations last year 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 graduated 25 students. “We plan to invite graduates from last summer to participate in the training this year 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.