FORESTVILLE – The county is venturing into a new partnership to benefit high school students through a new initiative called Ready for Work: Champions for Career and College Ready Graduates in Prince George’ County. Ready for Work was created through County Executive Rushern Baker III’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) and Prince George’s County Public Schools […]
FORESTVILLE – The county is venturing into a new partnership to benefit high school students through a new initiative called Ready for Work: Champions for Career and College Ready Graduates in Prince George’ County.
Ready for Work was created through County Executive Rushern Baker III’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) and Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) integrated support services. The program focuses on equipping students with necessary skills and knowledge for college and career readiness after graduation.
Baker, along with Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer of PGCPS, announced their partnership with Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) on Nov. 4 at Suitland High School. They also announced that, with help from Venture, the county, businesses and nonprofits have identified and raised $5 million for Ready for Work the initiative. The ultimate goal is $15 million and an expansion into more schools.
Baker said VPP investing and committing to the county is an extremely big deal. He compared their work in the county to the possibility of the FBI moving to Greenbelt and MGM casinos building in National Harbor.
“You don’t get VPP to come into Prince George’s County. They never come here” Baker said. “They’ve done projects in Virginia and in D.C. but to get a major philanthropic organization to come here, to bring nonprofit partners to Prince George’s County and to start right here at Suitland? It’s going to be world changing.”
Baker believes VPP’s work in the TNI areas will create an outward impact and “will set a standard for the nation.”
“We bring (the TNI’s) up, the whole county brings up and to have VPP and the partners get that and to locate it in those TNI areas means that we’re focusing the resources on where we can have the greatest impact,” he said.
Through the work with VPP and other nonprofits, Baker said the county is going to rise and garner attention.
“As other philanthropic organizations see what we’re doing here in Suitland, they’re going to want to invest in Prince George’s County and this is how it starts,” he said.
Maxwell said the school program, which started at Suitland High School, is set to grow beyond the school’s walls into the county because of the commitment of Venture.
“We’re grateful to Venture Philanthropy for committing to raise this money for Prince George’s County and to commit to supporting the work here at Suitland and to expanding it to both Oxon Hill and High Point High School,” Maxwell said. “And brining the same kind of resources to students both from the far north of this county to the far south of this county and in between.”
The programs through PGCPS will focus on a college preparatory academic curriculum and a career curriculum. The students will learn project-based learning with real-world applications. According to the Ventura, the Ready for Work initiative will support programs throughout the county dedicated to expanding the number of Prince George’s County graduates who are ready for college or a career. The money raised through VPP’s efforts will go toward career-readiness programs throughout the county.
Maxwell said this work would not be possible without support from the local businesses and local nonprofits. He said, while the financial support is a key factor to the program’s growth, local businesses also give in other ways.
“We’re really thankful because of the opportunities it will bring our students for internships, authentic learning experience opportunities, and the support network they’re going to have as they get ready for their work after high school,” he said.
A large focus of the programs, Baker said, is making sure students go off into careers.
“We want to make sure we up the graduation rate of our kids, but we also want to make sure those children go off not only to colleges, but careers,” he said. “Having the mentoring, having the tutoring, having the training and access and exposing them to careers and colleges is really going to make the differences.”
Laurie Peterson, from Peterson Companies, is a member of the VPP board and said those are the main reasons they decided to come out to Prince George’s County.
“Prince George’s County has a very simple problem, but it’s a really large problem, and that is young people who graduate do not have choices, and companies and employers in Prince George’s county do not have a labor pool,” she said.
Peterson said what they’re doing is a simple: they want to train young people and create opportunities.
“We really believe it is worth our investment and we believe it is worth us asking investment from other partners, other companies, other corporations,” she said.