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JPMorgan Chase Awards Futures and Options
$50,000 for Summer Internships

Futures and Options was selected by JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy to receive a $50,000 grant that would provide New York City high school students with paid, mentored internships this summer. JPMorgan Chase understands how critical summer employment is to helping young people build a pathway to post-secondary success and is making a significant investment in summer internship programs. Futures and Options joins Virtual Enterprises International and PENCIL as JPMorgan Chase’s nonprofit partners in their Summer Youth Employment initiative. Thanks to JPMorgan Chase’s generous funding, 20 additional Futures and Options interns will work in professional, office-based jobs, learning about different career paths and honing important skills that will prepare them for jobs with family-sustaining wages and upward career trajectories. Interns will work 35 hours a week during the six-week program, which starts on July 7. In addition to attending Futures and Options work-readiness trainings and career exploration events, the interns will participate in a Financial Capabilities Workshop hosted at JPMorgan Chase, where they will have the opportunities to hear from the bank’s leadership, meet with JPMorgan Chase employee volunteers and learn the basics of handling their money and finances, including how to create positive relationships with financial institutions from the FDIC Money Smart curriculum.

We at Futures and Options applaud JPMorgan Chase for its commitment to youth employment – their investment has the power to profoundly impact the futures of our city’s most underserved youth as well as our business community’s vibrancy and our city’s economy.

Engineering as a College Major: A Discussion with Boston University's Jennifer Larbi

On May 16, our College Guidance Initiative monthly workshop’s focus was choosing a college major. The goal of the workshop is to give our high school students a deeper understanding of how and why to select their college majors, as well as some implications their choices may have on their future career paths.

We were delighted to have Jennifer Larbi, a student at Boston University College of Engineering, join us as our workshop’s guest speaker. Jennifer is pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering, president of the National Society of Black Engineers and a strong, relatable role-model for F+O students. And, like many of our students, Jennifer grew up in New York City, graduating from the High School of Math, Science and Engineering at City College of New York. 

Jennifer is also a Boston University Inspiration Ambassador. Boston University is committed to bringing the excitement of engineering to elementary, middle and high school students. BU’s corps of undergraduate Inspiration Ambassadors visit elementary, middle and high schools in Greater Boston and in their home communities to give interactive, fun presentations to show K-12 students that engineers are essential to our health, happiness and safety.

For the 19 F+O students who met Jennifer, engineering clearly came alive. They heard her personal story, what majoring in engineering is like, and some common misconceptions about the field and who should pursue it. The students were intrigued by the many career options open to engineers and how entrenched it is in our daily lives. Jennifer learned from our students, too. They talked about engineering’s unpopularity and why a lot of students might not choose it as a college major. Jennifer said engineering was not her first choice in college, but when she learned about the multitude of options within the engineering field and her ability to combine her passion for medical science with the field, a new world of possibilities opened up. The students eagerly asked Jennifer many questions about combining engineering with medical science, specific jobs in the engineering field, and if she would choose engineering again as her major, which she answered: “In a heartbeat.”   

Futures and Options is tremendously grateful to Jennifer Larbi for sharing her time, her story and advice with our students and to Dr. Gretchen Fougere, the Associate Dean of Outreach and Diversity at Boston University College of Engineering who oversees BU’s engineering outreach programs, for introducing us to the innovative Inspiration Ambassador program and Jennifer.

George Westinghouse CTE High School Interns Celebrate a Successful Spring

George Westinghouse CTE High School interns celebrate with their supervisors and
our program coordinators at the spring program's Closing Ceremony

On Monday, May 19, Futures and Options celebrated the successful conclusion of our spring George Westinghouse CTE High School Internship Program. Students and supervisors came together over pizza and cookies to reflect on their experiences together this spring and on the impact of the internships.

Keith Ollivierre, intern at Cause Effective, emphasized the confidence he gained by holding a job. He said, “I learned from this experience that I can do anything I put my mind to. This was my first job and I knew I was responsible but I finally understand that I can handle having a job.”

Keith is one of 40 George Westinghouse High School students who worked in New York City businesses, nonprofits and government agencies this year thanks to the generous support of HSBC. Futures and Options has been partnering with HSBC and George Westinghouse CTE High School since 2007, and have together served over 200 young people.

We appreciate all of the organizations that opened their doors to our interns and the supervisors who mentored and nurtured them on the job. Thank you to HSBC for once again making this program possible!

Congratulations again to our spring interns on a successful semester!

The Penguin Group Hosts F+O's Career Essentials Middle School Students

F+O Career Essentials students listen as Penguin employees
discuss the publishing industry and Penguin's books.

On Wednesday, April 30, our Career Essentials seventh graders from LAUNCH Expeditionary Learning Charter School visited Penguin Group, one of the largest English-language trade book publishers in the world. The students toured the offices and heard from Penguin Group employees about the history of the company and the ins and outs of the publishing process.  

In addition to hosting our students, Penguin generously sent each student a recently-published middle grade book to read prior to their trip. Students met in small groups with Penguin’s editors, a designer and a publicist to discuss what they liked and disliked about their books, which were Ultraviolets, Space Rocks, and The Creature Department. They talked about everything from plot to character development to the cover designs. One student opined, “My book was great, and I liked that it had some illustrations in it, but I think they should have illustrated the parts that were difficult to understand instead of the obvious parts.”

A huge thank you to Penguin's assistant editor, Becca Kilman for organizing and facilitating a fabulous trip and to all the Penguin Group volunteers who helped the publishing business come alive for our students!

Student Spotlight: William Ortiz and George Ssozi

Top row from left to right: program coordinators Clare Harwood, Rebecca Dougherty, Career Essentials interns, William Ortiz, George Ssozi, program coordinators Janay Daniels, Corey Ogilby; Bottom row from left to right: program coordinators Jackie Avitabile and Christine Scarfuto   

Since the first week of March, William Ortiz, a sophomore at Alfred E. Smith High School and George Ssozi, a junior at Curtis High School, have served as the interns for Career Essentials, Futures and Options work-readiness program for middle and high school students. Both successfully completed the fall’s program, and then took the initiative to apply and interview for the internship positions, which are offered each semester thanks to funding from Gap Foundation. As our Career Essentials interns, William and George assist with a variety of tasks, from preparing workshop materials to communicating with program participants regarding schedules and requirements. They complete all of their tasks efficiently, with contagious positive attitudes. All of our Futures and Options staff are thoroughly impressed with their hard work, dedication, and professional growth. Additionally, they served as mentors for our students in the current Career Essentials cohorts, helping the groups with their Create-A-Company projects, and giving advice and feedback in every workshop. In the final Career Essentials workshops, William and George will practice their public speaking and organizational skills by facilitating components of these workshops. Both William and George want to continue working – they already applied to our Core Summer Internship Program, and we are sure that they will be invaluable employees wherever they are placed.

When asked about his experiences at Futures and Options, George, who moved here from Uganda only eight months ago, said, “I believe I was given a chance that not many can get, but I was chosen. It meant a lot to me. This was the time my life turned around, knowing that I had a lot that was coming my way in the future, and I had to do my best and set an example for other interns after me.”

Similarly, William, who hails from the Bronx, feels that, “This program has had a great impact in these past couple months. I’ve learned plenty and I enjoyed the workshops that help me understand that there’s plenty more to learn.”

We are incredibly grateful for William and George's contributions and that we had the opportunity to get to know each of them as interns and young men. We will miss having them in the office every day!

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