The City of Chattanooga’s Department of Youth and Family Development will unveil its comprehensive Chattanooga Ambassadors Program this Saturday, “signing” its first 25 youth, who will learn leadership skills in the 48-week program.
“Just as student athletes sign scholarships, our CAP program signing day represents students signing commitments for a successful and brighter future,” said Lurone “Coach” Jennings, administrator for the City of Chattanooga Department of Youth and Family Development.
On Saturday, from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 25 young men, ages 16-18, who were pre-selected by area high schools, faith-based organizations, and Chattanooga Youth and Family Development Staff, will officially “sign” a letter of intention for the CAP Program. The community will get a first look at each individual selected to receive special training, counseling, leadership, education, and career development support. Ultimately, these young men will learn the process for becoming better leaders, make solid decisions, and be recognized as emerging ambassadors for a better city.
“Students need more opportunities, programs and services to increase their chances for success,” said Mr. Jennings, “and that is what we are attempting to do for the youth in the city of Chattanooga.”
Mayor Berke provided funding for an expansion of teen education and leadership programs in the FY2014 city budget, approved by City Council in August. The Berke administration is committed to growing young leaders, smarter students and stronger families in Chattanooga. The city’s CAP program exemplifies the Mayor’s vision.
The CAP program increases the number of young leaders and provides them with the tools to become self sufficient, decreasing their dependency on cash assistance and improving their quality of life. The CAP program provides a strong relationship with local partners, businesses, and communities, giving opportunities and resources for success to CAP participants and their families.
Each CAP participant will receive mentors, tutoring, educational and life enrichments, career coaches, leadership training, volunteer projects and will be connected to post secondary opportunities prior to graduation, falling in line with the department's five divisions of focus: Education, Leadership, Career Development, Recreation, and Social Services.
The 25 participants were selected from five schools, including Brainerd, East Ridge, Howard, Lookout Valley and Tyner High Schools, providing two students each. Five faith-based organizations, including New United, New Covenant, Mt Canaan, Olivet and Hawkinsville Churches also provided two students each. The remaining teens were selected by facility managers at South Chattanooga, Patten, Brainerd, Eastdale, Tyner, Shepherd and Washington Hills Youth and Family Development Centers.
Outcomes will be measured in four different areas: academic performance, leadership, career readiness, and community engagement. Multiple incentives will be given upon successful completion of activities, including earning a weekly stipend while working in their community. Parents of each individual will also be eligible to receive career development training and volunteer opportunities, while supporting their child.
“Imagine the power of shared accountability,” said Gary Rudolph, CAP director, “CAP provides wrap-around services and support to ensure youth development on a personal and professional level. Support will only be seconds away.”
The city plans to offer the same support system to 25 young ladies this winter.