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Our mission is to serve; to serve all individuals, regardless of age, income, or background. That means finding impactful ways to influence individuals from different economic backgrounds to help them achieve great success in their education and career paths. The Y Achiever’s program is just one avenue to help youth and young adults get started in a direction of life they might not have ever thought possible.
Y Achievers Program
The creators of the Y Achievers wanted to answer the question of how to give individuals ages 16-24 who are pregnant and parenting youth, disconnected from their community or family, economically disadvantaged, disabled, or homeless. Individuals who fall into a variation of these categories are presented with the best opportunities to go to school, find a job coach, and earn a fulfilling job. Offering a free program for qualified individuals sets this next generation up for success with access to career planning, college options, vocational training programs, financial aid and scholarships, and most importantly, a support system that wants to watch them shine. Mentors, case managers, and all the other cheerleaders get to watch each participant who journeys through this program create goals for themselves and their future.
Having a support system is key to managing the needs of young adults on their journey towards success. Our mentors and case managers make sure participants are actively pursuing a version of education or career training by setting goals and reflecting back on them. Two years is the allotted time to achieve the goal(s) set at the start of the program, motivating participants to actively engage in work readiness training, work experience (WEX) internships, and a myriad of other program offerings unique to each individual. Arguably, the most important aspect of a participants growth potential is having access to a case manager to push them towards completing their goal. Being there for the ebbs and flows of life and achieve goals, a case manager helps when they are stuck, giving professional advice to work through any barriers and achieve the set goal(s).
Arianna saw a flyer for the Y Achiever’s program that would soon take her from an economically disadvantaged background to graduating college with a 4.0. At the start of her journey, Arianna was simply looking for assistance to receive bus passes to get her to and from Gateway Community College where she was continuing her education. But she didn’t just get a bus pass. She learned how to find scholarships and pay for school, gained work readiness training, an internship learning marketable applications for analyst positions, and earned a job with great potential to advance her career.
“The program didn’t directly help where to steer my career goals, I just figured them out by participating in my own self and figure out what I want to do.”
The Y and the Achievers program contributed to Arianna’s overall success in just two years by uncovering her own education and career goals. After completing her degree earlier this year and with the help of her case manager, she discovered her strengths in analytics. The case manager steered Arianna to pursue this direction of a career path and encouraged her to utilize her natural analytical abilities. Arianna says, “He put positivity in me, helped me through school, especially during rough times in my personal life and he just pushed me to continue my education.” She was able to get exposure and experience with different software systems through her internship, giving a leg up in the job search.
Arianna’s difficult journey to economic security and knowledge is inspiring. Despite the hardships she endured, Arianna plans to grow her knowledge in sequel and coding to become an analyst, a difficult skill that she has excelled at thus far. Arianna’s success story has brought validation that the Y Achievers program is needed to help our youth of today pursue higher education and career goals. Her best advice to anyone starting the program is to take advantage of what is offered as a participant because there is a lot to individualized offerings when finding your direction in the workforce.
Listen to Arianna’s full Y story on Why The Y podcast. To learn more about the Y Achiever’s program, check out our website. If you’d like to donate to further engage our opportunity youth, check out our donation page to see how your gift will help this population.
Rebecca Varney, Community Relations Coordinator, Valley of the Sun YMCA, striving to tell your #WhyTheY story.