Chamber Awarded $100,000 To Implement Community Connectors Program in Austintown

Jul 12, 2017
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently awarded the Regional Chamber a $100,000 grant to implement its Community Connectors school mentorship program in the Austintown Local School District.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) recently awarded the Regional Chamber a $100,000 grant to implement its Community Connectors school mentorship program in the Austintown Local School District.

Schools Superintendent Vince Colaluca said, “We are very excited to bring this opportunity to Austintown through our partnership with the Regional Chamber and other local businesses. This grant will expose our students to positive role models right here in our community who could potentially guide them towards a future career path."

Community Connectors is aimed at making students in 11th and 12th grades workforce ready by matching them to job and mentorship opportunities, as well as providing job shadowing and internship and externship opportunities, all within the local business community. Students in the program learn basic jobs skills such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, time management, team collaboration and appropriate dress for the workplace.

Nick Santucci, manager of Education and Workforce Development at the Regional Chamber, said, “We are looking forward to beginning our Community Connectors Program in Austintown and working with the administration in order to help prepare our students for the workforce. Soft skills and professional skills are essential not only for students but for adults, as well, when going through interview processes and other avenues of employment.”

While the Chamber had received grants to implement and then continue the Community Connectors program in the Youngstown City Schools in the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 school years, and also implement the program in the Warren City Schools for the 2016/2017 school year, the ODE opted to not renew the grants for those cities for 2017/2018, suggesting that these programs should now become self sustaining.

“We are clearly disappointed that Youngstown and Warren’s grants were not renewed,” said Santucci. “However, we are very proud of the work that we were able to accomplish the past two years with the students in those districts and plan to explore all options to determine whether the programs may be sustained within the schools and with our partners.”

While initial expectation for student participation in Youngstown was 100, more than 150 students enrolled last year, and all 150 were placed into job opportunities. In Warren, 32 of 43 participating students were placed into jobs.

 In order to be eligible to participate in the Community Connector program, students must have a 2.0 GPA and be recommended by a teacher. Once they are chosen to participate, they will be taught soft work skills, placed into available work opportunities and paired with mentors for ongoing support.

The local grant opportunity for the Austintown Schools is a collaboration of the Regional Chamber, Brilex Group, Roth a Sodexho Company, Highway Tabernacle and Tabernacle EPC.