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Guest column by Tom Fadre: Program unites foster youth with internships

TeenForce looking for participating businesses to help provide jobs for youth

Published in the September 28 – October 11, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Tom Fadre

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Tom Fadre

TeenForce and Silicon Valley Children’s Fund have created an incredible STEM and work readiness program for high school foster youth. We offer this program to all Santa Clara County foster youth because they face insurmountable challenges in realizing their potential once they emancipate from the foster care system.

Most struggle with unemployment and homelessness and we feel this is due in large part to not having mentoring and jobs while in high school. Through this program, the youth learn robotics, light computer coding, web design and how to navigate the business world — emotionally and practically.

For all their hard work during the school year (60 hours on Saturdays) they are given a paid summer internship at a notable company.

Our South County internship hosts this summer included TenCate, Chase VP, Chiala Farms, Anaerobe Systems, The City of Morgan Hill and The Opportunity Youth Academy.
The internships give the youth critical insight and experience with a business sector they may never have imagined in addition to valuable mentoring from well educated, caring professionals.

These hard-working youth seem to grow up before our eyes — gaining confidence and inspiration for a future that works. Many are offered continued employment with their host companies and share more about their intentions for higher education.

Beginning in October, we’ll kick off our Hack the Hood component of our STEM and Work Readiness program. Hack the Hood links a small business owner who needs a website with one of our foster youth in a collaboration to design and build their business website. This program is free to the small business owner (aside from the hosting and domain name fees). It’s a $2,000 value for the business.

“The Hack the Hood program works wonders for both parties involved (youth and business owners) alike. Businesses get a young opinion and look to their website while youth get a entrepreneurial experience into the possibility of owning a business,” said one small business owner based in San Jose.

The collaboration requires only three or four two-hour meetings with the youth web developer. All instruction will be conducted at The Opportunity Youth Academy in downtown Gilroy. It’s truly a fun, enriching and inspiring experience for everyone involved.

Do you enjoy working with young people and need a free website? We need business partners confirmed by the middle of October and space is very limited.

Please contact me at (408) 827-3078 ext. 16 or tom@teenforce.org and I will walk you through the process of enrollment.

While this opportunity is free, we ask that participants join with a spirit of service, learning and empowerment — for it truly is good for the youth, good for business and good for the community.

Many thanks for your interest and support of TeenForce, Silicon Valley Children’s Fund and the foster youth of Santa Clara County.

Tom Fandre is the senior business development manager with TeenForce. He wrote this for Morgan Hill Life.