TeenForce - Providing South County Foster Youth STEM Training and Internships
By Tom Fandre
Visit TeenForce's STEM and Professional Development Program on a Saturday and you'll feel the high levels of energy and support present in the room. In the words of one of our foster youth, Brooke, "[TeenForce is]" not just a program; it's a family." Spending the first two hours of their day focused on professional development training, high school foster youth learn and practice skills to acquire and maintain employment, such as interviewing, resume writing and workplace etiquette. The rest of the day focuses on developing STEM abilities and interests in areas such as robotics and website design.
Youth who successfully complete the STEM program are eligible of a paid summer internship where they are surrounded by individuals with strong educational backgrounds, influence and experience for the first time in their lives. The coupling of STEM training and internship allows youth firsthand experience of how education leads to income. Internship hosts span a wide array of industry sectors, including financial services, cybersecurity, farming, real estate, automotive, healthcare, property management, construction and accounting to name a few. Our 2016 South County Internship partners included TenCate Advanced Composites, Anaerobe Systems, Chiala Farms, Chase VP Bringing and the City of Morgan Hill.
By age 24, the average foster youth earns $690 per month, far less than the $1,535 per month earned by his or her non-foster peers. The only former foster youth who are consistently employed, earning wages near the national average, are those who held a job while in the foster care system. The goal of the STEM program and internship is to affect positive change for foster youth while still in high school. We introduce them to the professional workforce where they begin to understand the breadth of opportunities available to them and envision themselves as part of the dynamic Silicon Valley economy. From there, they build positive adult relationships, generate enthusiasm for education and learning, and stake out college and career pathways.
This program is part of a Clinton Global America commitment that TeenForce launched in 2015. We are committed to giving this opportunity to 100% of Santa Clara County high school foster youth.
In 2016, we placed 37 foster youth at 23 different internship sites. We will more than double our impact in 2017 by placing a total of 70 youth interns county wide. 15 of these internships will be in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Can your company host one of our interns? Do you know of anyone who can consider hosting-either a friend, relative, supplier or competitor? This is an incredible opportunity to affect proven positive change for an individual and the community as a whole. The average cost to host an intern is $2,500 (150 hours at $15 per hour) of which $2,000 goes to pay youth wages and payroll taxes. Throughout the internship, TeenForce is the employer of record and our expert staff provides light case management and oversight to ensure the experience is a positive one for all involved.
Thank you, Rotary Club of Morgan Hill. We appreciate all the good work you do in our community and truly welcome your help in finding more internship partners for 2017!