WASHINGTON, D.C. – Urban Alliance, a national youth development nonprofit, is expanding its flagship High School Internship Program in the greater Washington, D.C. area to provide paid, professional internships, job skills training, and one-on-one mentoring to economically-disadvantaged high school seniors in eastern Montgomery County, MD.
In its pilot year, Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program will serve 30 young people in the county, 15 students each from Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville and Springbrook High School in Silver Spring. The program officially launches today, with students poised to begin their professional internships next week after undergoing 11 weeks of training in workplace skills such as professional communication, time management, and interviewing. The goal of the program is to expand young people’s idea of what is possible for their future, and prepare them for lives of economic self-sufficiency.
Urban Alliance’s expansion into Montgomery County came after a 2015 Greater Washington Community Foundation report stated that over 8,000 young people in the county are not in work or school, and disconnected from a pathway to economic success. The report recommended Urban Alliance, which serves students still in high school with the potential to attend college but are at risk of dropping out and lack a post-high school plan, as a potential solution to the problem. A 2017 grant from the Community Foundation’s Children’s Opportunity Fund made that recommendation a reality.
“We are thrilled that the local community has come together to bring internships, professional training, and mentoring to young people in Montgomery County,” said Eshauna Smith, CEO of Urban Alliance. “At Urban Alliance, we believe that early, meaningful work experience can truly change a young person’s path, preparing them for lifelong economic success.”
The inaugural class of Montgomery County interns will be working at businesses and organizations throughout the community, including Precision Medicine Group, Holy Cross Hospital, Maryland Multicultural Youth Center, Child Trends, Children’s Hospital Foundation, Silver Spring Regional Center, CREATE Arts Center, Marriott International, and Clark Construction Group. Additional support for the expansion into Montgomery County was provided by the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the Mead Family Foundation.
Founded in Washington, D.C. in 1996, Urban Alliance has since expanded to Baltimore, Chicago, and most recently, Northern Virginia. To date, Urban Alliance has placed nearly 4,000 students in paid internships, and served another nearly 18,000 through job skills training. In 2017, Urban Alliance released the results of a six-year, randomized controlled trial showing that completing the High School Internship Program boosted the likelihood of young men attending college by 23 percentage points and of middle-tier students (2.0 – 3.0 average GPA) enrolling in a 4-year college by 18 percentage points, and resulted in greater comfort with and retention of soft skills, especially among young men.