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“One day I want my own HVAC business. Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning is cool and the money is good. After finishing my E.C. Goodwin Technical School classes and getting my license I want to work for an HVAC company while earning my Associates Degree before starting my own company.”

Keianna Foreshaw’s goals don’t end there. She also wants to use her own business to attract more women and minorities to the field. “At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in HVAC because there were only two girls in my class and I was also the only African American.”

Keianna just completed her second summer in the Human Resources Agency of New Britain, Inc.’s (HRA) Summer Youth Employment Program. This summer she took the Entrepreneur Workshop to help her solidify her career goals. Workshop students selected a business they would like to own, researched it and wrote a basic business plan. They also visited local companies to learn more about how they are run. Keianna’s business plan presentation won first prize in the closing ceremonies last week.

The theme for the 2012 Summer Youth Program was “Jobs for Young People Today Mean Brighter Futures Tomorrow.” HRA’s program was made possible by Capital Workforce Partners, with generous funding from the State of Connecticut and the American Savings Foundation.”

Other students held a variety of subsidized employment positions in many types of businesses – from farm hands, to clerks, to warehousing and manufacturing assistants, to kitchen assistants, to retail, to graphic design, to counselors and teaching assistants. Employers included Stew Leonard’s, Marshalls, Avery’s Soda, Urban Oaks, CW Resources, CCSU, Consolidated School District of New Britain, Community Health Care, the City of New Britain and others.

A growing number of employers have worked with HRA on this program for several years. They have taken on students with subsidized employment and then hired some for regular employment at the end of the program. Two examples are Marshall’s and Stew Leonard’s. This past summer Marshall’s took 15 students; hired 5 for regular employment and asked 6 to return for seasonal employment. Stew Leonard’s took 3 students and hired all 3 for regular employment.

Rafael Barros was new to the program and learned he might like to go into counseling, teaching or another field where he can work with kids. “This experience was eye-opening for me. Before this summer I hadn’t been exposed to much in the world. Now I see there is so much more out there – so much more to do and learn. I never thought I would be good working with kids. As a Counselor-in-Training at the Boys and Girls Club I learned that I am. I also liked learning how to manage money so I can live more comfortably.”

Participating summer youth are either in high school or just graduated in June. All are low-income teens who are looking for some guidance, experience and a chance to succeed. One hundred (100) students completed the 2012 summer program – 90% are returning to high school and 10% just graduated and are enrolled to start college.

According to Leticia Mangual, Director of HRA’s Youth Services Program, “This year’s students are motivated, analytical and seriously interested in their future careers. They learned about their career competencies and they focused on their jobs. They especially liked the financial literacy section. Equally important, they learned what type of work they do and don’t want to do.”

Issac Smith learned about customer service skills, logic, responsibility and team work. “My first real job was working at Avery’s Beverages. It was fun and I’d like to keep working there if possible. I also learned that I might like to go into sales – maybe selling water or other natural resources. Thank you, HRA – this summer kept me from hanging out with nothing to do. Now I’m thinking about what I would like to do in the future.”