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New Program Empowers Northfield Youth through Hands-On Work Experience
Submitted by Cheryl Strike on Fri, 08/22/2014 - 4:09pm
Nearly 40 people attended an event to hear high school youth share stories about their summer internships. The youth were students from Northfield’s Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes (TORCH) collaborative. The audience was made up of their internship supervisors, parents, TORCH mentors, and program funders. The event was the culmination of nearly a year’s worth of planning: The Career and Occupational Readiness Experiences program, or CORE, was piloted this year in an effort to intentionally engage TORCH students in the process of career exploration and preparation.
More than ten local employers engaged in job shadowing and internships with TORCH youth. The list of career experience hosts represents the breadth and scope of Northfield’s employment community and includes the Northfield Retirement Community, SEEDS Farm, Liv Concepts, Inc., Rich Cahoon American Family Insurance, YMCA, AUM Cardiovascular, Rice County Economic Development, Northfield Arts Guild, HealthFinders, and the Community Action Center. River Bend Nature Center in Faribault also hosted a Northfield youth for a summer naturalist internship.
TORCH began in 2005 to serve Latino youth in grades 6-12 in the Northfield Public Schools, providing academic and social support, career exploration, and connections with postsecondary education opportunities. The program now also serves low-income and first generation students, reaching 450 students in grades 6-12 in addition to alumni. The CORE program supported 57 youth during the 2013-2014 year through partnership with Rice County Workforce Development, Inc. Additional support came from WINGS, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), and the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI). Building on the successes and learning from the challenges of the pilot year, TORCH and Workforce Development, Inc. hope to continue their partnership during 2014-2015, advancing their mission to prepare students for success in the workplace.