Brattleboro, VT. On January 27th, 11 students from Franklin Pierce University participated in job shadows with Brattleboro employers through an initiative of the Community Equity Collaborative Diverse Workforce Development Committee. Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, as co-chair of the group, hosted the “Bridge to Brattleboro” initiative with the Rindge, NH University. Bridge to Brattleboro is designed to reach diverse college students outside of Windham County, and recruit them to participate in job shadowing, site visits, and informational interviews with local employers, as well as community development and social networking opportunities. The intent of the program is to encourage and support young people, especially young people of color, to choose Brattleboro as their place of work and residence.
Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell, a long-serving member of the Community Equity Collaborative and Diverse Workforce Development Committee, commented that “the Town actively supports the Bridge to Brattleboro program because we think it is important not just for the students who participate, but also for businesses in Brattleboro and the overall vitality of our community. The students from Franklin Pierce University were impressive and we saw substantive connections made between those students and the participating employers.”
Pierre Morton, Executive Director of Career Services at FPU, had similar reasons for investing in this initiative. “The Career Center at Franklin Pierce University is committed to developing a path to employment for all of our diverse student populations within New England, and the continued development of our Bridge to Brattleboro partnership is critical to creating an attractive, viable place for students to create a meaningful career, connect to a community and create a purposeful life.”
Franklin Pierce students were paired with nine different employers aligned with their educational pursuits. Majors in Health Careers spent the day shadowing employees at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Healthcare & Rehabilitation Services. Students studying Criminal Justice joined the Brattleboro Police Department and Brattleboro Community Justice Center. Other students, studying everything from Business Administration to Creative Writing to Sports Management, visited The Richards Group, The Brattleboro Reformer, and Outer Limits Health Club.
Bill Norwood, Director of Human Resources at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, says that “partnerships with local educational institutions provide learning opportunities for the community we serve while creating the foundation for a strong workforce in Brattleboro. The Bridge to Brattleboro program with Franklin Pierce University allows us to build relationships between aspiring undergraduates and a variety of employees and departments at our hospital.”
A “Connecting with the Community” lunch was hosted by The Root Social Justice Center, with lunch generously sponsored by the Vermont Country Deli. The lunch started with students sharing their experiences and learnings from the morning, followed by a panel of The Root members discussing the realities of living in Brattleboro as a person of color. The Root was well represented by panelists Shela Linton, Naomi Moody, and Lise Sparrow, who spoke of the resources, organizing, community-building, and sense of welcome and belonging The Root provides.
Alex Beck, Workforce and Education Program Manager with the BDCC and Co-Chair of the Diverse Workforce Development Committee, was thrilled with how the day unfolded. ”Between Brattleboro Memorial Hospital hosting a breakfast for the students, The Root Social Justice Center and Vermont Country Deli supporting an impactful lunch, and the numerous employers that hosted students for job-shadows, it proves that when the Brattleboro community comes together to welcome any and all prospective Vermonters, inspiring things can happen.”
Franklin Pierce students, the BDCC, and employer hosts have already begun conversations regarding summer internships for students, and full-time employment opportunities with Seniors graduating this spring.