Training the Next Generation

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Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks implements Missouri Forty-hour Internship Tryout, creating early workforce exposure for its youth.

Beginning at 2:30 p.m. every weekday afternoon, the Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks welcomes 450 students into a supportive, loving environment. The afternoon begins with homework help, a hot meal and recreational activities before moving into workshops focusing on three core areas.

“The Club focuses on three main areas and that’s academic achievement, healthy lifestyles and character and citizenship,” says Stoney Hays, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks and recipient of the 2017 National Executive of the Year award from The Professional Association with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Some of the Club’s offerings include STEM- based programs, a rock-climbing wall, a game room, homework help and tutoring, a gymnasium and classes focused on making good choices. The Club reaches students on all levels but, with the help of Hays most recently started focusing on helping them succeed once they graduate from high school through the Missouri Forty-hour Internship Tryout (FIT).

Through FIT, students graduate from two of the club’s workforce development programs before applying for the internship. The programs, Money Matters and Career Launch, are designed to expose youth to personal finance and career choices before they take the next step after graduation.

The first internship program accepted up to 30 students who worked 40 unpaid hours during their spring break. Beforehand, students completed a questionnaire detailing their likes and interests, which determined their placement with one of the 10 partnering businesses, including Branson Airport, CoxHealth, State Farm Insurance and Arvest Bank.

Eventually, FIT will be offered more frequently. Hays says the Club hopes to make the program more flexible, meaning students could potentially work one day a week for eight weeks instead of fitting it all into one school break period.

“We are trying to help these young people become more informed about the world of work and introduce them early,” Hays says.


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