Program Spotlight Oct 15

Ready for the World  Program Spotlight: Teen Ambassadors

At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor, teens learn what counts most. That is only possible with the help of a supportive community, one that comes together to ensure that our members are on the road to a Great Future. 

The Joel E. Smilow Teen Center is using a new collaborative approach that combines its partners’ best practices to offer a unique college preparedness program called the Teen Ambassador project. Partners in this collaboration include the Benton Harbor Promise Zone, The First Tee of Benton Harbor, Lake Michigan College and The Readiness Center. As a result, the Teen Center is presenting the Diplomas to Degrees (d2D) program with new approaches and resources to address a wide range of academic needs for our teens.
The Teen Center engages and encourages high school freshmen to begin thinking seriously about post-secondary plans—whether that is college, career training, the military, or being job-ready—to ensure they graduate from high school with a plan. 

Monday through Thursday, teen members have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one tutoring with retired teachers and volunteers who are committed to helping high school students succeed academically. The goal of the tutoring program is to help teens learn the skills and develop the character to achieve proficiency in academic subjects.

Tra K., a sophomore at Countryside Academy, participated in the pilot program last year. As far back as he can remember, Tra always asked his parents for toy cars for Christmas. He was obsessed with them. When he
was seven years old, his dad bought an old car and told Tra that he could help fix it up. While parked in a big field, Tra got into the driver’s seat. He has never looked back. Today, Tra wants to be an automotive engineer and help design quality, family cars. While most young men his age are dreaming about speedy sports cars, Tra says he wants to make a difference for working people.

Tra travelled to the University of Kentucky this past summer as a member of the Club’s d2D program, experiencing college life firsthand. His spark of desire was ignited and he is ready to get to work. Since returning from the trip, Tra has been working with the tutors to raise his GPA, focusing on all As and Bs. Instructor Natalie Logan says that Tra is so dedicated, he puts in enough program hours for two members!
The Teen Ambassador community partnership program enabled twelve teens to qualify for summer jobs at Harbor Shores Golf Club. During the 2016 summer, participants will have expanded opportunities to work at Harbor Shores, Whirlpool Corporation and Lakeland Regional Healthcare. 

Benton Harbor Promise Zone’s Alloyd Blackmon is proud of the progress members have made. She said, “The goal is that every student who graduates has a post-secondary education plan. It is an investment in our community.” The project became a focus for all partners after learning recent graduates were not prepared for the rigors of attending college. “Together, we are helping teens make the connection between learning in school and being successful in college or vocational programs,” said Alloyd.

Sharing common goals, discovering best practices, and working together, the Teen Ambassador partnership ensures that teens set goals, work day-by-day to achieve academic success, explore options for and develop post-secondary education and career plans to be fully prepared for college and a future productive citizens.
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