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The Untapped Power of Teenagers
October 22, 2013

The Untapped
Power of Teenagers

Marymount University Reston Center offers exclusive nonprofit management programs providing the business expertise needed to run a successful nonprofit. Find out more here.

We all know teens want to be in charge and they're highly social creatures. One DC-based nonprofit found a way to make them social entrepreneurs.

Sure, high school students need to know algebra and history, but LearnServe also thinks kids should know how to fix problems in their communities. The nonprofit teaches social entrepreneurship in DC-area public, private, and charter high schools. Select students work after school on creating social programs based on problems they're passionate about. LearnServe started a decade ago with an international focus, helping teachers and students connect with underdeveloped communities all over the world. The nonprofit, run by Scott Rechler (far left) and Sabine Keinath (not pictured), takes groups to Zambia, Paraguay, and Jamaica to work with community organizations.

Several social entrepreneurship programs have taken off, including ScholarCHIPS, a.nonprofit created by a high school student with a father in prison to offer scholarships and other financial resources to children with parents in prison. It's awarded $15k worth of college scholarships. Another student created Kids Are Scientists Too, which provides a hands-on science education curriculum to middle school students. LearnServe's after-school social entrepreneurship classes have reached 400 students. Scott says the next step is to deepen the after-school program's impact in partner schools and to expand it outside of the DC region and into middle schools.

NRF's First Virtual Job Fair

NRF-ellen davis
The National Retail Federation spent the past year getting more young people interested in retail careers. And last week, it met them where they hang out: online. The association held its first virtual career fair, where 19 companies and over 1,000 college students interviewed via online chat rooms for all kinds of retail jobs. NRF SVP Ellen Davis says the point was to not only help its members find talent but to also show college kids that not all retail jobs are about stores and merchandising. Several of the positions were for PR and marketing internships and finance jobs. Each job seeker had nine minutes to interview and recruiters could rate each candidate.

retail career fair
Ellen says the feedback has been positive, and it's considering another virtual job fair in the spring. Here are the lessons learned:

  • Make sure you have a good amount of recruiters and job seekers who want to meet each other.
  • Price the first virtual career fair low. Ellen says recruiting companies typically pay over $1,000 to participate. NRF charged $500 considering it was a new concept.
  • Give all participants some tips on how virtual career fairs work. For example, the first online interaction between the recruiter and the job seeker gets right to the point without some of the small talk that comes with an in-person meeting at a traditional job fair. (The people in this picture are probably chatting about the weather.)

Happy Birthday, Mary's Center

Mary's Center celebrated its 25th birthday with a gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington last Friday. 600 people attended, and the organization—which provides healthcare, family literacy, and social services—raised about $650k. Some of the gala organizers and speakers included Pepco people strategy VP Thomas Graham, PBS chief national correspondent and event co-host Ray Suarez, NBC4 chief meteorologist and event co-host Doug Kammerer, Mary's Center board of directors chair Julie Martinez-Ortega, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Mary's Center president/CEO Maria Gomez, and Mary's Center chief development officer Rebecca Diamond.

New Nonprofit Tackling STEM Shortage

cybersec HS training-mike
Teacher and IT engineer Mike Miklich developed an online high school curriculum that preps students for entry-level cybersecurity jobs. He started the program last year where he teaches—Christ Chapel Academy in Woodbridge, Va. Now public school systems in Virginia, including Prince William and Loudoun, have expressed interest. Mike also recently launched the Institute for Cybersecurity Education, a nonprofit to help get the curriculum in other schools and give teachers and students a way to connect. Students start as freshmen, taking tech classes to get them ready for certification tests and entry-level cybersecurity jobs. (When Model UN allows cyber-warfare, things are going to get interesting.)

cyber sec HS program-class
Not one browser is on Facebook. Impressive work, Mike. The nonprofit also negotiated a deal on the course prices, which normally runs $24k per student for four years. Instead, the program costs $625 on average per year, per student. Mike says the number of cybersecurity students at his school doubled in the last year to 20. Part of his focus is getting more minorities into cybersecurity, and he's enrolled several African American males. Mike spent a few years developing the curriculum during his free time and consulted NSA and government contractors like SAIC, Booz Allen, and Lockheed Martin on what they want in cybersecurity experts. Now he has four students ready to take certification tests.

Do any good deeds lately? Or have friends who have? We'd love to hear about them for potential publication: tania.anderson@bisnow.com

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