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New initiative aims to train teens

Boys & Girls Club in Woodburn launching pilot program that offers career training to youths with employment barriers


Though it may share its name with the 2003 science fiction vehicle that aimed to help 56-year-old, then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recapture silver screen stardom, don’t be fooled: The Boys & Girls Club’s “T3” program is no movie.

Rather, the acronym, as used by the Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties, stands for Training Teens for Tomorrow, and this summer, it’s coming to Woodburn.

According to Halie Peplinski, facilitator of the Boys & Girls Club in Woodburn, the idea is to come alongside youths with barriers to employment (e.g., economic disadvantages, family issues, lack of experience or a criminal record).

In Salem, where the T3 program began several years ago, 93 percent of the 200-plus youths who have participated had at least three risk factors to their education and employment.

“The aim is to get them through high school and into higher education or on a career pathway,” Peplinski said.

The program is quite involved and includes skills training, weekly mentoring with a case manager, college and company tours, job shadowing opportunities, financial tutoring, leadership training and community service projects.

However, one of the centerpieces of T3 is its three-month apprenticeship program, in which each teen is partnered with a working professional, small business or government agency, receiving on-the-job training, real-life work experience and even a paycheck. Peplinski said each participant will be eligible for a small stipend (between $800 and $1,000) depending on their job performance and growth.

“There are so many teens graduating who aren’t equipped and who aren’t keeping up with the workforce,” Peplinski said. “So this program helps the teens improve their employability, but it also helps the community in that their teens will be more equipped and ready to enter their labor force.”

The program’s impact on its Salem participants is impressive. According to information provided by the Boys & Girls Club, 90 percent of the 113 teens who have completed the program graduated from high school or earned their general education development (GED) diploma.

Almost as many (88 percent) were employed or in post-secondary education by the end of the program.

“They’ve seen tremendous results,” Peplinski said. “That’s one of the reasons we thought it would be worthwhile to try in Woodburn, because the outcomes in Salem have been so incredible.”

This first year will serve as a trial run for the program in Woodburn, she said, involving just five Woodburn High School students, who have been selected for participation by their teachers. Their apprenticeships will all be completed through partnership with staff members of the city of Woodburn.

“Our hope is that if this round goes successfully, we’ll continue it annually,” she said. “In the future, we’ll partner with other businesses in the Woodburn area, so the teens have more of a variety of internships they can participate in.”

The apprenticeships will take place over eight weeks this summer following the Fourth of July weekend.

The T3 program is funded by The Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties and Job Growers Incorporated and is part of the Youth Opportunity System in partnership with WorkSource Oregon.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club in Woodburn, visit www.bgc-salem.org/our-clubs/woodburnbranch.html.




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