BRATTLEBORO — As students get into high gear during their second semester, Youth Services Workforce Development staff are busy seeking referrals of youth, ages 13-17, in need of extra support and career mentoring in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls.
Now in its fifth year, Youth Services' Ready-to-Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) meets once a week after school to connect high school students with professionals for career-focused mentoring and to encourage them to remain in school.
Adult mentors join students on site tours to businesses and colleges, serve on occasion as guest speakers, and help participants work on their personal career plans, according to Susan Lawson-Kelleher, the organization's Workforce Development Coordinator.
Careers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are particularly emphasized, but students of all interests are encouraged to apply. Mentors are sought who have an ability to relate to young people who often live in difficult circumstances and who have a willingness to share good job readiness skills that might spark a teenager's interests.
“The idea of RAMP is to help area students to envision a brighter future and then develop the skills and steps to get there,” said Lawson-Kelleher.
RAMP meets once a week after school during the academic year at Brattleboro Union High School on Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and at Bellows Falls Union High School on Thursdays from 3-4 p.m.
As a job training program, attendance is incentivized, with each student earning $5 for each session attended.
“Where else would I get paid to do fun stuff and meet new people while exploring cool careers?” asked Brendan Hodge, a recent RAMP graduate from BUHS. Both of his siblings took advantage of the opportunity as well.