By Sheila Jackson
“When am I ever going to use this in real life?”
This is the time-honored refrain of high school students of every generation — used most often when they are confused or uninspired by science or math classes. But thanks to a groundbreaking partnership led by SAP, 30 students in the inaugural class of ‘C-Town Tech’ at Charlestown High School in Boston simply have no use for that phrase anymore.
This September marked the launch of an ambitious six-year, STEM-focused program that allows participants to complete high school, earn a college degree in information technology and get hands-on exposure to IT careers along the way. In short, what these kids are learning in the classroom has immediate, real-world relevance that inspires their imaginations, encourages them to continue their education and impacts their future paychecks.
Let’s take a look at what happens when an innovative company like SAP participates in equipping youth with tools they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce.
By taking the long view, SAP is helping to grow the pool of skilled workers to fill its needs in the future.
An overarching goal of SAP’s corporate social responsibility initiatives is to increase the number of young people that are prepared for career pathways in tech-driven companies, and students of color or from low-income families are typically underrepresented in STEM-related jobs.
For many young people, especially those from low-income families with no history of higher education, high school often fails to prepare them to consider how they’ll get to college, what they’ll do when and if they get there, and most importantly, what they will do afterward. SAP education initiatives make those connections clear so students feel ownership over their professional futures, and have the necessary navigational support along the way.
In Boston, C-Town Tech curricular activities include field trips to local SAP offices to job shadow and brainstorm ideas for industry-identified projects. SAP provides mentors who are in the careers students are being prepared to enter, and the program offers paid internships for juniors and seniors.
To learn more about C-Town Tech, or how your company can develop CSR partnerships for greater impact, contact Sheila Jackson at Jobs for the Future; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit: Flickr/r nial bradshaw
Sheila Jackson is a program manager at Jobs for the Future, where she is responsible for researching and writing about effective strategies for building grades 9-14 career pathways and supporting the delivery of technical assistance to the Pathways to Prosperity Network. Recently, Sheila co-wrote a two-part brief with her colleague, Charlotte Cahill, about youth-access to the workplace with a focus on helping employers navigate the legal and liability issues of having students under 18 in the workplace. Sheila is also involved with JFF’s partnership with enterprise software company, SAP, which includes the development of an IT focused pathway called C-Town Tech at a Boston Public High School. She is currently writing a “blueprint” for SAP’s education initiatives, documenting the key elements of this employer-led initiative to prepare the next generation of young people for college and careers in technology-driven fields.
Prior to joining JFF, Sheila worked at community-based college-access program in San Francisco called Making Waves Education Program, where she supported first-generation college students prepare and apply for college and understand the financial aid process. Prior to her college-access work, she was a special education para-professional in the San Francisco Unified School District. Sheila holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and French from Wesleyan University and a Master’s degree in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.