The Bucker Family Hope Center at Aldine recently celebrated its spring class of graduates of “Empower 2 Employ,” a self-paced, nine-to-12-month program designed to prepare teens to be job-ready.
Wesley Bumpus, life skills trainer for the Hope Center, said the class “had another wonderful semester of job training, life skills training, field trips, volunteer opportunities and fun,” adding, “our program helps our teens find their ‘light,’ and we are able to give them the space, the confidence and the love to shine their own light in the community.”
The program is a mixture of curriculum and activities designed to give E2E participants a variety of experiences.
The curriculum portion encourages participants to grow in their personal development, technological skills, business environment skills and career readiness.
Within that curriculum, the teens explored eight topics, including customer relations, business terminology, marketing, business machine operation, register training, career exploration and career research. At the conclusion, each student created a cover letter and resume and underwent a mock job interview.
The program also featured field trip experiences to mirror their class topics: they visited a Chick-fil-A restaurant to study customer service and a local mall to research marketing.
E2E alumnus and volunteer Ivan Barrientos, a sophomore at Lone Star College, said the program “has helped me develop and grow as a person, find opportunities for work and set me up for success. I even received a Buckner scholarship after I graduated and that helps me out a lot. Whenever I have free time, I like to come back and volunteer.”
“We also have an amazing partnership with Woodforest National Bank, who came out a few times a month to teach financial lessons, and the Hilton Houston North Hotel, where we had each student job-shadow,” Bumpus said. “Not only do we do job skills training, we also go on college and trade school tours at Lone Star College, Sam Houston State University, San Jacinto College and Culinary Institute Le Nôtre. We have colleges come out to speak and do workshops with our teens regarding FAFSA, financial aid, scholarships, work study and campus life.”
Each participant received a small stipend at the end of the semester, Bumpus explained, “which helps their families buy school supplies and clothes, but the program is more about the experiences and the comradery, building new relationships and networking, volunteering, trying new things and building their resumes.”
He said several community partners helped E2E’s success, including East Aldine Management District, Hilton Houston North, Woodforest National Bank, Lone Star’s North Harris campus, Halliburton, the Houston Zoo and the CRU organization.