CPC launched a successful CPC Summer Alternative Program (SAP), a virtual career readiness initiative for New York City high school and college participants, that operated in July and August. The program was particularly impactful during the COVID-19 pandemic, which significantly reduced the number of summer youth employment opportunities for NYC residents. We invited 155 high school and college-aged students, including many low-income, immigrant, and first-in-family youth, to participate in SAP.
Through SAP, they gained essential job readiness skills, explored various career pathways, learned from working professionals in different sectors, and received $1,000 each in cash assistance. CPC provided participants with the tools and resources needed to find a career path that aligns with their interest, broadens their prospects, and offers meaningful connections for their professional growth.
The SAP model consisted of career readiness workshops, career mapping and research, individual and group advising, networking and public speaking, civic education and engagement, and a weekly speaker series and mentorship to diversify their learning experience and keep all 55 participants engaged throughout the entire program. With the CPC Leadership Council’s help in contacting mentors, more than 30 mentors from various fields were recruited weekly and paired with a group of 3- 5 youth based on participants’ career interests. Mentors from as far as California also participated, creating a diverse pipeline of professionals. The virtual mentoring groups discussed specific, career-related content and allowed for more targeted questions about an occupation.
The program achieved more than providing 155 youth with cash assistance to support their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. CPC SAP also connected high school and college youth with working professionals through meaningful interactions. They explored and discovered career pathways that aligned with their passions. Participants identified potential careers, gained skills to navigate the job application process, and learned how to network with working professionals. The youth said they felt more prepared for their future job search, more confident in interviews, public speaking, and networking, and comfortable discussing various civics topics. They noted learning about new industries and professional interests through the career panels. The mentorship initiative also received positive feedback as participants closely engaged with their mentors through work-related discussions. The flexibility and balance of topics and activities made the SAP an overwhelming success with participants and created a unique and customized experience not otherwise available in an academic setting.
CPC appreciates our partners, supporters, and volunteers for the opportunity to provide critical cash assistance to youth while making meaningful impacts this past summer. We hope to build upon the accomplishments of the SAP by continuing to offer high-quality experiences for the CPC community during this unprecedented time. The Summer Alternatives Program was funded and supported by Robin Hood, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and JPMorgan Chase.