Public Education Foundation is recruiting Chattanooga area businesses to hire Hamilton County Department of Education high school students for paid summer internships through its STEP-UP Chattanooga initiative. Launched in January 2016, this internship program for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors is designed to address the challenges faced by both businesses and students in a complex, changing global economy.
STEP-UP Chattanooga will provide work readiness training designed to help students be successful in interviews and professional settings.
Throughout the experience, students will receive support and feedback from STEP-UP staff and supervisors at their place of employment. STEP-UP Chattanooga aims to place 175 students in internships this summer, an increase from 153 participants this past summer.
"Organizations hosting STEP-UP interns will build relationships with a pool of talented, diverse future employees while filling job vacancies and demonstrating a commitment to improving the lives of a diverse group of talented, economically disadvantaged youth. Students will have opportunities to explore careers while developing work skills, as well as to network with adult professionals who can help them achieve educational and professional goals," officials said.
“The impact and success of STEP-UP Chattanooga has been truly inspiring,” said Dan Challener, president of the Public Education Foundation. “We very much hope that businesses across Hamilton County will once again step up and hire our students.”
The following businesses, nonprofits and organizations employed STEP-UP interns for Summer 2017: 2nds in Building Materials (Southeastern Salvage), 3H Group Hotels, Application Researchers, Art 120, Benwood Foundation, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Bridge Scholars, CBL & Associates Properties Inc., Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Chambliss, Bahner, & Stophel, P.C., Chattanooga Autism Center, Chattanooga Cares, Chattanooga Library, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, Chattanooga State Community College, Chattanooga Zoo, Chattem, Inc., CHI Memorial, City of Chattanooga, Creative, Co.Lab, Creative Discovery Museum, Doubletree Hotel, Elder’s Ace Hardware, Electric Power Board (EPB), Elemi Architects, EMJ Corporation, Erlanger Health System, The Enterprise Center, Greenspaces, Habitat for Humanity, Jelks Law Firm, Journey Educational Services, Lamp Post Properties, Lifeline Inc., MediTract, Merrill Lynch, Northside Neighborhood House, Public Education Foundation, Regions Bank, River City Company, Rock City, Signal Centers, Siskin Hospital, SmartBank, Southeastern Tennessee Development District, SunTrust Bank, TechTown Chattanooga, Tennessee American Water Co., Tennessee Aquarium, Thinking Media, UnifiEd, United Way of Greater Chattanooga, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Unum, Vayner Media, Vision Hospitality, Volkert Inc., Warren & Griffin, P.C., WRCB-TV and WTCI-PBS.
Many of these businesses participated in the pilot year of STEP-UP Chattanooga, employing 76 HCDE high school students in summer 2016, who earned over $100,000 in combined income. In year two, 153 HCDE high school students earned over $220,000 in summer income. If given the opportunity, 93 percent indicated they would participate again. STEP-UP Chattanooga was initially funded by grants from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation and Benwood Foundation.
“The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation was proud to support the first two years of the STEP-UP Chattanooga Program with a $300,000 grant. Our $200,000 grant for 2018 demonstrates our continued belief in the value of the program,” says Chelsea Johnson, program manager for Community Relations and Foundations at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
Research from the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce indicates there are currently 15,000 jobs that cannot be filled by Hamilton County residents, based on educational requirements. Additionally, the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that a major reason students fail to complete a two- or four-year college program is that “too many can’t see a clear, transparent connection between their program of study and tangible opportunities in the labor market.”
STEP-UP Chattanooga complements PEF’s other College Access & Success initiatives, including Camp College, Passport Scholars, support for Hamilton County’s College Access & Career Advisers and community education, officials said.