This triple collab is innovating summer job training for Delaware teens - Technical.ly Delaware

Access

Jul. 15, 2019 6:14 pm

This triple collab is innovating summer job training for Delaware teens

Strive, Dual School and Wilmington Green Box have developed a program that gives teens a voice — not just a paycheck.

Linda Schirmeister-Gess leads an exercise with Wilmington Green Box interns.

(Photo by Holly Quinn)

The tables in the Hagley Room at The Mill are strewn with LEGO bricks, Play Doh and Post-it notes. Lots of Post-it notes.

At the direction of Dual School program director Zack Jones, a small team of teenagers writes a single idea on the sticky notes at a time and attaches it to a board.

“That’s the genius of Zack’s Post-it note method,” says Linda Shirmeister-Gess, director of advancement for Strive, the youth leadership organization best known for its annual Sports Challenge. “It separates the idea from the person. Nobody’s judging you.”

The Post-it exercise is part of a job training program for Wilmington Green Box, where corny training videos and endless lists of rules are traded for a “Culture of Problem Solving,” a five-day, highly interactive onboarding process. At the end of the program, the new employees will start their new jobs with Green Box, making the cold-press-juices, manning the kiosk and selling juice from mobile Green Box unit (a converted bike with coolers attached).

Unlike many kids starting their first jobs, these young employees aren’t simply low-level cogs in the machine — they are an active part of Wilmington Green Box’s evolving business plan.

In a morning exercise, the teens were armed with what Shirmeister-Gess calls a “how might we” question and conducted interviews with people in Rodney Square.

“It could be, How might we make healthy food accessible? How might we sell more juice? How might we get more foot traffic?” said Shirmeister-Gess. The answers to those questions become the catalysts with which they develop solutions. As employees, they can then propose those solutions to Jason Aviles, founder of Wilmington Green Box.

The experimental method is not only empowering for young employees, it also uses youth productively rather than squandering its access to a valuable demographic.

Advertisement

Aviles has been working almost exclusively with inner city Wilmington teens since he launched the Green Box kiosk in 2017. This year, he’s opening Green Box Kitchen, a plant-based restaurant at 400 N. Market St., and the staff will continue to be made up entirely of local youth.

For this project, the teens — technically interns — are paid by funds from the Delaware Department of Labor. The 20-hour training program includes two days of design thinking and character-driven leadership exercises, delivered tag-team style by Shirmeister-Gess and Jones; two days of on-site hard skills; and one day to discuss what they’ve learned before starting the job.

“It’s a little like school,” said intern Brandon Williams, “but it’s to help you, not just send you out. That’s why I like it.”

“The process brings everyone closer together,” says Manny Sierra, who originally took the training at the beginning of the summer and has been working for Green Box for four weeks. “Everyone gets comfortable with each other and with constructive criticism,” one of the areas covered in the training.

There’s also a sense of pride: “The mission makes you feel good about what you’re doing,” Sierra said. “You’re doing something for the community rather than working for a big corporation that doesn’t care about you.”

Dual School and Strive first connected when 1313 Innovation nonprofit Social Contract was looking for a better social impact model.

“One of our ‘how might we’s’ was, How might we decrease teen violence?” said Shirmeister-Gess. “There’s employment, emotional literacy, creativity” — which all became aspects of Culture of Problem Solving.

Green Box is the first business to collaborate with Strive and Dual School Culture of Problem Solving cohorts, which includes two cohorts at The Warehouse and one cohort at Sussex Central High in Georgetown, where students tackled the problem of access for undocumented youth — in a group where half of the students were undocumented. The program has plans to return to Sussex High for a one-day program as part of the Pathways to Success.

At the end of the summer, the plan is to bring all of the the groups together to pitch the concept of Culture of Problem Solving to government agencies, businesses and nonprofits as a program they can adopt for training their own interns or as part of their community outreach.

“We hope to have a big showcase for the community with 40 or 50 kids,” said Jones.

Companies: Dual School
-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

This Wilmington teen wrote a book to help high schoolers hack education

This Delaware teen is teaching ag skills for a sustainable future

New SEPTA Saturday night train to Wilmington starts August 5

SPONSORED

Delaware

Verizon is looking for the brightest ideas on how to use its 5G technology

Philadelphia, PA

Bresslergroup

Senior Interaction Designer

Apply Now
New Castle

Wilmington University

Web Developer (Full-Time)

Apply Now
Philadelphia OR Baltimore

Technically Media

Technical.ly Editorial Intern (Fall 2019)

Apply Now

You can now see the ceiling of The Grand’s Copeland Hall close up, thanks to VR

Wilmington’s first vertical farm clears a final hurdle

Wilmington Office Market Report shows a jump in vacancies — here’s why

SPONSORED

Delaware

Escape the August heat with cool AI tech

Delaware

Young Conaway

Entry-Level Corporate Legal Administrative Assistant

Apply Now
Delaware

Tech Solutions Inc

NOC (Network Operations Center) Technician

Apply Now
Wilmington

BlackRock

Analyst, Recruiting Coordinator

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Delaware

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!