The U can B Program at Propel Andrew Street School focused on an 8-week series of U can B curriculum and guest speakers so that students could learn about various career options.
Speakers from organizations such as INHABIT Real Estate, US Probation & Pretrial Services of Western PA, the CEO of a Technology company, a subject matter expert in workforce development and interview skills, visited students who are participated in a career planning class at Propel. Topics included Entrepreneurship, Careers in Criminal Justice, Careers in Media, and Entrepreneurship in the Real Estate Industry.
In addition to the guest speakers, U can B staff taught students to use online career tools such as those available at O*Net Online and at Career Talk on KDKA.
11th Grade Propel student – 2016 – I want to get a career that I LOVE!! I learned this through the UcanB classes. My next step is to explore internships in an interesting field.
11th Grade Propel student – 2016 – I know that I want to go into the FBI. The UcanB teacher really helped me and told me what I need to do next to get a job in this area. I am going to ask for input from my family and investigate careers online.
11th Grade Propel student – 2016 – The UcanB teacher told me that there are many jobs out there and getting a college degree isn’t the only path. Loving what you do for an occupation is #1. They really helped me.
9th Grade Propel student – 2016 – I learned from all the UcanB speakers. I would like to have a career and be successful. I plan to research careers online and look for an internship.
10th Grade Propel student – 2016 – I learned that I can do what I want for a career when I am older. I found out that there are many jobs that pay well. I plan to research careers online and research careers online.
9thth Grade Propel student – 2016 – I know that I want to be an entrepreneur now.
11th Grade Propel student – 2016 – There are many jobs that I can easily obtain and my next step is to explore internships in an interesting field.
Pittsburgh’s own Alcoa is a proud partner of our U can B program. Alcoa is a longtime supporter of education and diversity in the world marketplace – through the Alcoa Foundation, thousands of nonprofits, schools, and organizations have been able spearhead sustainable, educational, and career-building initiatives. Alcoa’s partnership with Building Bridges expands the U can B program into more schools in the Pittsburgh region, most recently being Freeport Area School District. For over 60 years, Alcoa Foundation has been a champion of supporting nonprofit organizations worldwide. Alcoa Foundation attentively supports sustainability, STEM, innovation, communities, and students on a daily basis. Funding provided by Alcoa Foundation supports leading nonprofit education and environmental organizations, building strong long-term partnerships that produce meaningful and impactful results. Recognizing the ever-growing challenges of tomorrow, Alcoa Foundation directly supports initiatives that produce an innovative and competitive workforce. At the end of the day, all of the funding decisions that Alcoa Foundation makes are driven by two imperatives: environment and education. The Alcoa Foundation has a vibrant history of supporting STEM education programs, helping thousands of students every year. Our global economy and marketplace is constantly evolving. To prepare the communities where Alcoa operates for the world to come, the Alcoa Foundation focuses on projects that increase the number of students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies. Seeking to promote a more diverse workforce, Alcoa Foundation places emphasis on engaging girls, women, and other underrepresented groups to enter into science and technology fields. Some of Alcoa Foundation’s several STEM initiatives include Junior Achievement, Academy of Model Aeronautics, Society for Science and the Public, and US 2020. US2020 and Alcoa Foundation aim to bolster the STEM movement by working together to create an online mentoring program to reach 20,000 students and professionals. In line with Alcoa Foundation’s spirit of promoting innovation and education is their current support of U can B. By partnering with nonprofits like Building Bridges, Alcoa Foundation continues to contribute to economic success, environmental excellent and social responsibility worldwide. See the positive change that Alcoa Foundation enables by looking at their website....read more
Wanted: A Skills Gap Solution Stevie Miller The formula for career success was supposed to be simple: go to college, get a bachelor’s degree, and find a job doing what you love that pays a decent living. As our newest generations of college graduates have discovered, the reality isn’t quite so simple. While more and more college educated employees are available, fewer employers want to hire them. Underemployment, that is, either working part time when you want to work full time, or working at a job that doesn’t utilize your education and training, is a persistent problem that has outlasted our recession-inspired unemployment. PayScale reports in a recent study  that 46% of American workers identify as underemployed. The problem is caused by what’s known as the skills gap. Despite a large number of people who would like to find more or better work, industries that require skilled workers–but not necessarily the kind of education you get with a bachelor’s degree–are coming up short. The skills gap is most evident in STEM fields, or industries requiring the use of technology, including healthcare, computer science, and especially manufacturing. It’s difficult to find the right employees for these fields, observes the Harvard Business Review , because the technology is changing so quickly that many schools don’t offer the right training. Soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, are in increasing demand by employers, but also aren’t offered in schools, particularly because they require one-on-one efforts with students. Employers, meanwhile, increasingly expect prospective employees to shoulder the burdens of training themselves, the US Department of Labor reports.  Yet prospective employees are reluctant to take on this training when the technology is changing so quickly that the skills required by one employer are unlikely to translate to the next job opening. Jeff Selingo, author of New York Times bestseller “There is Life After College”, notes: “The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good because it banished anything that smacks of job training to second class status.” He further writes: “We need more than just one pathway to good jobs in the U.S. What we need is a place like Harvard–both prestigious and rigorous–that will attract students who have talents and interests to pursue skilled jobs critical for the economy that don’t necessarily require a four-year college degree.”  1: http://www.payscale.com/data-packages/underemployment 2: https://hbr.org/2014/08/employers-arent-just-whining-the-skills-gap-is-real 3: http://www.careeronestop.org/businesscenter/recruitandhire/identifyyourhiringneeds/the-skills-gap.aspx 4:...read more
At the center of Building Bridges for Business’s U can B Program is the mission to provide essential skills and programs to high schoolers, offering coursework and experience that enhances students understanding, their skillsets, and their preparedness for life after high school. An exciting partnership was formed between Aziksa, Inc. and U can B to provide access to Life Learning Courses for high school students in the Pittsburgh region. Aziksa is a cloud-based learning platform that allows students to take courses online, and use curriculum easily and inexpensively – they can take advantage of courses in entrepreneurship, science and technology, green and sustainable science, and a variety of trades. Earlier this year, Aziksa, Inc. established a multi-year contract with U can B to provide a blended learning system that expands students’ access to courses. Available online and on mobile devices, the Aziksa online platform (www.aziksa.com) is easily accessible. Beyond that, the courses provided through Aziksa are deliberately curated to maximize teacher-student interaction through tools Virtual Classroom and Virtual Lab. “We are committed to offering easy to use classes to young people and this partnership will allow more students to take advantage of the U can B offerings,” said Aziksa President and CEO Santosh Jha. With this blended learning program, students can sign-up online and participate in the courses from their homes or on the go all the while still taking advantage of the benefits of interacting with fellow learners and their instructors. U can B’s reach is amplified by innovative services like Aziksa, now able to provide affordable and accessible educational material to a larger range of Pittsburgh students. “We are very pleased to be working with Aziksa. They really understand how best to deliver online learning in today’s world and I know students will benefit from the increased interaction” comments Linda Handley, U can B. The curriculum offered through U can B connects students with entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and nonprofits like Building Bridges, and engages them with the professional experiences of life after high school and college. U can B promotes student development and exposes young people to essential life learning courses, offering curriculum built to best fit a school’s needs. Courses provided through U can B cover themes such as entrepreneurship, web design and SEO, graphic design and animation, veterinary study and animal related careers, sustainability and environmental issues, green technology, and career preparation and networking education. Beyond engaging students with excellent curriculum, U can B also incorporates their proprietary Coffee With film series, a program that showcases industry leaders, politicians, and entrepreneurs sharing their stories and insights from their careers. Partnered with Aziksa, U can B is now accessible to more students than ever. More information about the U can B program is available at the Building Bridges website. Learn more about Aziksa, Inc....read more
Pittsburgh has an abundance of talented entrepreneurs and innovative startups. Joining us today on Coffee With is Kelly Collier, founder and CEO of ActivAided Orthotics, a medical device startup that produces flexible, supportive posture-correcting clothing. ActivAided has revolutionized the traditional medical brace into a product that allows for non-restrictive therapy, providing impressive support and rehabilitation without sacrificing flexibility or comfort. Collier launched the company from the ground up, their product initially developed for her senior project at Carnegie Mellon. ActivAided first saw development in the form of a class project for Collier, a then Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering student at CMU. An avid swimmer, Collier’s back pain problems became the catalyst for the project which was developed by a physician Dr. Gary Chimes, Collier and her peers as a senior project at Carnegie Mellon University. Unlike her classmates, Collier gave herself additional homework when she incorporated the assignment into a post-graduate business. Since founding ActivAvided Orthotics, Collier has become a specialist in commercializable product development and has expertise in all stages of the process. Whether it be design, manufacturing, scalability, or distribution, Collier possesses the business prowess to efficiently tackle any aspect of business growth and operations. Collier’s efforts enabled her to collect honors as the U. S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Western Pennsylvania Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Kevin White, Pittsburgh SBA district director, commented that Collier is an entrepreneur who identified the solution to a problem. He said, “Her back problems led her to turn this project into a business that helps correct posture in a non-restrictive form.” Collier’s transformation from student to entrepreneur is characteristic of the incredibly innovative business environment in Pittsburgh. Want to learn more about the origins, development, and lessons learned from ActivAided? Tune into this episode of Coffee With. Since this blog post and video the company was acquired by...read more
This episode of Coffee With features a relatively new member to the Pittsburgh community (moved here in 2009) who has already made a big impact in their time here. Rabih Helou is co-founder of The Beauty Shoppe, a collaborative workspace found in two locations in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty community. The Beauty Shoppe is an innovative new way for businesses and entrepreneurs to work – they provide comfortable spaces and all of the technical services an individual or business needs to run effectively. They provide the basics so that businesses can focus on what’s important. Helou is obsessed with making businesses serve the social good. His experience as a former consultant and business owner have inspired him to create an organization that serves the needs of small businesses and professionals. The Beauty Shoppe revolutionizes the way people work – shifting the dynamic and culture from the skyscraper to the street-side venue. This “breaking-down” of walls and development of a flexible and comfortable space is what has made The Beauty Shoppe’s impact so impressive – they have grown to serve over 100 different individuals or business. Before his involvement at The Beauty Shoppe, Mr. Helou directed server multi-million dollar business operations, including international development projects for the U.S. Department of State. He also served as head of Middle East operations for a Strategy Consulting firm in NYC, a $25 million multi-year initiative for the fastest growing mobile operator in the Middle East and North Africa. Mr. Helou has spent over 15 years consulting to an incredible range of businesses in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, spanning US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East. He earned his PhD in Social Markets from University of Maryland. The Beauty Shoppe offers top-of-the-line infrastructure to meet the needs of organizations and individuals alike. Learn more about the awesome history behind The Beauty Shoppe by tuning into this episode of Coffee...read more
For too many American students, high school is a time of disengagement that fails to put them on a path to success later on in life. In fact, a 2012 Gallup Student Poll indicated that student engagement during high school is at a critically low level. The survey, which asks students how involved and enthusiastic they feel about school, reported that while nearly 80% of elementary school students feel engaged, only 44% of high school students feel that way. So, how can we keep students engaged throughout high school? The answer is a curriculum that connects the classroom to careers. STEM Curriculum Many high school graduates lack exposure to learning that links their work in school to college and careers—especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). When students understand that rewarding careers exist beyond the classroom, they are more likely to feel motivated to engage in their studies. Using a variety of activity-based learning models, schools can provide students with opportunities to develop their critical thinking skills and creativity. An integrated STEM curriculum provides equity among students from all backgrounds, empowering them to find their passion and look beyond high school and into the future. Career and Technical Education Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses help develop students’ noncognitive skills such as problem-solving, communication, time management, and critical thinking skills. By providing students with CTE courses, schools help prevent dropouts because the curriculum offers practical applications of knowledge through authentic tasks that allow students to see the relevancy of their instruction. Because the lessons are more practical and hands-on, students feel more engaged. Ultimately, CTE curriculum connects the knowledge that students are gaining in the classroom to the future by helping them understand how that knowledge helps them obtain a career they’ll find interesting and rewarding. Preparing students for success later on in life requires a different approach to the educational experience than it did in the past. Too many of America’s students are not meaningfully engaged or motivated in their academic experience while in high school. By providing kids with opportunities to connect what they’re learning in the classroom to the future, schools can inspire students to take control of their education and find success as adults. Programs like U can B are working to re-engage students in the classroom by providing classes that give students a chance to see what life is like after high school and college. The U can B Curriculum is tailored to meet any school’s needs, and includes classes on topics such as entrepreneurship, careers in the trades, careers in IT, careers in healthcare, career preparation, leadership, and more. Contact us at Info@BuildingBridgesforBusiness.org or click here to learn more about the U can B...read more
http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uzHquLxHFA The Coffee With Show was given the incredible opportunity of speaking with City Councilman Dan Gilman. Dan Gilman is currently serving his first term as a Pittsburgh City Council member and has great pride in representing Pittsburgh’s 8th Council District. Gilman was first elected to Council in 2013. Prior to serving as a Council Member, he worked for a decade as the Chief of Staff to then-City Councilman and now Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Peduto. Councilman Gilman is a champion for growth, development, innovation and education in Pittsburgh and offers a wealth of exciting news to share with us on the show. As a Councilman, Gilman is consistently regarded as the voice of younger Pittsburghers who are redefining the City as a place of burgeoning growth and endless potential. Gilman and is continually recognized for his tireless advocacy on behalf of Pittsburgh’s technology boom – his activism has helped to bolster business development and innovation in Pittsburgh. Councilman Gilman is perhaps the single most active and effective proponent of Pittsburgh as a nationwide hub for entrepreneurship and business growth. Gilman is proactive in passing legislation that best benefits the City and its residents. In his time as a Council member, he has passed many pieces of critical legislation. His work has resulted in prohibiting perpetrators of illegal hillside dumping from bidding on or participating in city contracts, in providing real workplace solutions for pregnant city works experiencing pregnancy discrimination, and in developing non-discrimination policies in Pittsburgh’s Authorities. Beyond his legislative work, Councilman Gilman is a champion for education. He has been organizing a diverse group of advocates who are working to fight hunger throughout city schools by operationalizing a citywide backpack feeding program. He has also been convening quarterly meetings of all the school principals in his district to discuss issues of importance to both the City and its schools, and to forge working relationships across schools and neighborhoods. Learn more about why Gilman is so excited to be involved in Pittsburgh by watching the Coffee With episode...read more
http://http://buildingbridgesforbusiness.org/coffee-with/ The Coffee With Show is proud to have Dan Rice, CEO of Rice Energy, join us to tell us about his experiences with the energy industry. Dan Rice has served as the CEO of Rice energy since 2013, previously working with Transocean Inc. and Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co, LLC. Mr. Rice’s many years in the energy business gives him a unique perspective and understanding of why energy is one of the most exciting fields to be involved in. Mr. Rice has served in a number of positions at Rice Energy, starting out as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in October 2008. In 2013, he served as the Chief Operating Officer, and has been the Chief Executive Officer since October of 2013. Along with his responsibilities as CEO, Mr. Rice currently serves as a member of the health, environmental, and safety committees. Rice Energy is proud to be historically a family-owned and operated business. Rice Energy aims to lead the nation to energy independence while protecting the environment, provide the safest workplace for their employees and partners, and generate the best-in-class returns to their stakeholders. In doing so, Rice energy will illuminate the power of positive energy. In regions in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Rice Energy has been actively involved in the Marcellus and Utica Shale since 2010, and is a top 20 producer in Pennsylvania. Rice Energy operates with environmental awareness and sustainability as a cornerstone of their business philosophy, and never passes up a chance to give back to the communities in which they are involved. They are committed to partnering with organizations in their operating footprint that align with their giving initiatives of public safety, youth education and leadership, and community enrichment. From their annual festival and fundraiser “Marcellus Mania” to their volunteering organization The Blue Crew, Rice Energy is proactive in supporting communities. Before his involvement with Rice Energy, Mr. Rice served as an investment banker for Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., LLC, an integrated energy investment bank in Houston. Prior to his involvement at Tudor Pickering Holt, Mr. Rice was a senior analyst of corporate planning for Transocean Inc. where he was responsible for mergers, acquisitions, and business development. Mr. Rice has a BS in Finance from Bryant University. For Mr. Rice, the most exciting part of being involved with Rice Energy has been the development of natural gas, specifically the progress that the US energy industry has made from being a net importer of natural gas to the point of...read more
A new report from ACT has found that 20 percent of students who are likely well-prepared for their first year of college are not actually enrolling. Additionally, results from a multi-year College and Career Readiness survey of 165,000 high school students conducted by YouthTruth, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, found that only 45 percent of students feel positive about their college and career readiness. What’s The Problem? According to the same YouthTruth survey, an overwhelming 87 percent of students want to eventually earn a college degree and land a career, but many believe that their schools aren’t helping them develop the skills they’ll need to succeed after graduation. To make matters worse, as a result of being unprepared, approximately one in four students who enter college the fall after high school graduation enroll in remedial coursework during their first year of college. The aggregate additional, direct college expenses these half million students and families had to pay out of pocket for remedial coursework in the first year in 2011-12 was an astounding $1.5 billion. The problem is deeply rooted in the curriculum at many schools across the United States. Graduation is treated as the ultimate goal, which ignores preparing students to reach their future goals. In support of this idea, many schools aren’t encouraging students to challenge themselves and are not helping students find their passion. Instead, schools opt for a random combination of career-prep courses — which ranges from computers and engineering to trade courses in fields such as construction or manufacturing — rather than a series of courses aligned with a particular career field. What Can Be Done? All of these reports support the idea that schools need to reflect on their school’s structure, culture, and instruction, and how those elements influence exposure to rigorous, engaging, and relevant coursework that prepares students for success after high school in various college and career paths. This is especially important as young people need more skills than ever before in order to succeed in today’s knowledge-based economy. Graduating more confident high-school graduates is not an unattainable goal. Research shows that students support this change. In fact, nearly nine out 10 of all recent high school graduates said they would have worked harder if their high schools had demanded more, set higher academic standards, and raised expectations of the coursework and studying necessary to earn a diploma. Programs like U can B are helping schools make this a reality. By providing students with the skills they need to succeed after high school and empowering them to pursue a career that they feel passionate about, U can B is working to close the gaps between college-readiness, college enrollment, and career success. Ultimately, schools that place their students’ futures at the top of their priority list instead of graduation rates are investing in the world’s...read more
According to the U.S. Department of Education, children can experience a learning loss equivalent to two months of math and reading skills during the summer months. More than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can possibly be explained by an unequal access of the children to summer learning opportunities. The temptations are great for children to spend hours watching television or playing video games. However, just because it is summer vacation doesn’t mean students’ brains need to take a vacation. “You don’t want your kids to think that learning is only something that happens in places called schools,” says Susan K. Perry, author of Playing Smart: The Family Guide to Enriching Offbeat Learning Activities for Ages 4-14. With some planning, the summer can be the best time for learning and building new skills. Here are a few ways to make the most out of the summer. 1. Webinars Geographic distances between learning institutions and students can often create a barrier for learning during the summer. With webinars, students get access to virtual classes from anywhere. Another great thing about webinars is that you can find ones on just about any topic. This means that students can learn more about the things that interest them, which makes learning during the summer feel like less of a chore. For students that are starting to look beyond high school, summer is also the perfect time to begin career development. This July, U can B is offering a number of work-related webinars that cover the following topics: Networking Using Social Media for Job Searching Using Linkedin for Job Hunting How to Create a Professional Online Brand 2. Reading Programs Reading is a great way to keep students’ minds active during the summer months. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money on books. Instead, find out if your public library is part of the Collaborative Summer Library Program. Public libraries in participating states purchase posters, reading logs, bookmarks, certificates and a variety of reading incentives that help engage kids and get them excited about reading. 3. Start a Garden A fun way to foster students’ education and personal development during the summer is through gardening. Not only does gardening help create generations of kids connected to their food, community, and planet, but it also develops valuable skills such as planning, math, and science. Check out the Kids Gardening website for lots of great ideas and resources on how to get started. There are plenty of ways to ensure students’ minds don’t go into hibernation this summer. Learning does not have to be a seasonal event; with the right methods, students can be excited about learning year round! Plan ahead and take advantage of technology as well as free programs that make learning...read more