More than 50 young adults attended the CONNECT2Careers (C2C) End-Of-Summer Celebration on Sept. 16. Held at Junior Achievement San Diego, the event marked the conclusion of the 2014 youth summer employment program.
City of San Diego Councilmembers Lorie Zapf and Myrtle Cole and staff representative Mayra Vazquez from Councilmember Mark Kersey’s office kicked off the event, sharing words of inspiration, stories of their first jobs and the steps they took to get to where they are today.
The evening highlight was a special keynote address by former C2C participant Michael Gaulden. Michael was homeless for 10 years during his childhood. He spoke about being hungry, living in a car, and realizing that he needed to own his future if he was to get himself out of homelessness. “You can do what you want with your own individual opportunity as long as you do the right thing,” he said.
Michael held a number of jobs throughout high school, eventually participating in the SDWP summer youth program and earning admission to UCLA. He graduated in 2014 and is currently serving as Director of Corporate and Community Relations at Reality Changers, an organization that Michael was involved with as a youth. Reality Changers provides youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with the academic support, financial assistance and leadership training to become first-generation college students.
Junior Achievement led the participants through a workshop during the last part of the evening, providing important information about how to take the next step in their career. The youth broke into small groups and worked through a career path planning and personal branding exercise that challenged them to identify which skills learned during the summer can be applied to their dream job or future goals.
“Michael Gaulden’s speech was my favorite part of the event,” said Trendale Charon, a C2C participant. “He really inspired me to get back out there, look for work and get stable. I am really grateful for the all work opportunities that C2C provided this summer.”
C2C connected 334 youth with jobs at 176 employers throughout San Diego County this summer, exceeding last year’s numbers of 202 youth and 42 employers.
In addition to the summer-only program, 374 youth were placed in a subsidized work opportunity. The youth placed in the subsidized program are part of a larger program, funded through the Workforce Investment Act, with components that will help them graduate high school, increase their math and reading skills, prepare them for the world of work, and/or attain a certificate or degree.
An initiative of SDWP, C2C prepares our region’s future workforce by providing youth with the education, skills and support necessary to obtain and maintain a job and by connecting them to meaningful paid work experiences. The City of San Diego sponsored C2C through Community Projects, Programs and Services (CPPS) funds from districts 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7 and the City budget. In addition to the public supporters, New Horizons of San Diego and Buster Biofuels sponsored the end-of-year event.
For additional information on how to support C2C, please visit c2csd.org.