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Opportunity Inc. (Hampton Roads WIB)

Making a Difference

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Workforce Challenge

In the Summer of 2009, the national recession was in full swing and unemployment among youth aged 16-19 years old was nearly 30%. The ARRA provided funding for youth summer employment experiences through local Workforce Investment Boards. One challenge was to bring to scale a region-wide program on very short notice. Opportunity Inc. partnered with its constituent localties, leveraging thier staff resources, to launch an initiative several times its traditional summer program.

Workforce Solution

Each of the 8 Opportunity Inc. (Southeastern Virginia) municipalities participated, as well as the year round programs administered through outside contractors.

Along with the work experience, participants received workplace readiness instruction in the classroom. Lessons included resume writing, living within a personal budget, articulating skills in an interview, working in teams and dressing for success in the workplace.

Sample worksites included municipal Parks & Recreation Departments and Motor Pool, photography studios, child care centers, local colleges and universities, and summer camps.

Outcomes & Benefits

Opportunity Inc.'s ARRA-funded Summer Work Experience program provided 913 youth with work experiences for which they earned approximately $1.5 million. Cumulatively, youth worked over 150,000 hrs contributing valuable staff assistance to local governments and private employers. Opportunity Inc.’s program was the largest in Virginia, accounting for 26% of total state enrollment. Further, the program was larger than the entire programs in 11 states according to Department of Labor figures.

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