Local Boys and Girls Club vocational program gains national attention

Local Boys and Girls Club vocational program gains national attention

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In this kitchen, they're not just cooking up some delicious fish, they're preparing futures.

“All we do is career research,” Keith Blanchard, President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis said. “Career readiness and workforce development.”

In a 23,000 square foot facility, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis trains hundreds of Memphis students for five career tracks: culinary, automotive, welding, logistics and information technology.

"We want to make sure our kids walk out the door workforce ready," Jameko Williams, Director of Career Development Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, said.

Most students graduate with multiple professional certificates and also go through an important soft skills program.

"Where they learn to write a stellar resume, can interview appropriately, they know what to wear, they can manage conflict," Williams said.

"It's preparing me to get a job," Jerick Gaston, a student at MASE High School said. "That's what this program is mainly about. Helping you so when you get out of high school you won't be stuck."

This Memphis-based program has won national awards -- 100 percent of the graduating students either get a job, enroll in a 4-year university or enlist in the armed forces. When the program started 14 years ago, it was questioned. Now, this model is copied all over the country.

"Now this is one of the top priorities of Boys and Girls Clubs of America so we have clubs literally from all over the country to tour this facility and explore how we got started," Blanchard said.

This groundbreaking program's amazing success stories show the impact it's made on thousands of young lives.

"Our youth of the year that graduated from this facility is going to Howard University," Blanchard said. "Right now she's in Paris France doing a study abroad program. She did an internship at Boeing last year. Those are the opportunities and the doors that we're able to open for these kids and it's really gratifying to see that come to fruition."

If you’re interested in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis vocational program, there are classes in the morning and evening. You can apply in person at the training facility at 903 Walker Avenue or online by clicking on this link: https://www.bgcm.org/who-we-serve/our-clubs/juice-plus-technical-training-center/.

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