Local group uses program to steer students toward careers and community involvement

Teaching kids the importance of hard work, community and other values necessary to being a business owner or other future contributor to society is the impetus behind Cradle to Career.

Bernie Katz, president of the Williamsport Business Association, said the program includes a number of educational and work projects that will get school kids thinking about careers and their community.

“We formed a partnership with Williamsport Area School District, colleges and various non-profits to provide knowledge, information and help to students,” he said. “We are trying to teach them to be good citizens and employees.”

Katz said his organization saw a real need to teach career development skills to kids to prepare them for the job market.

The hope, he said, is to light a fire, ignite a spark in young minds while also teaching them marketable skills.

“If we all come together to work with our youngsters we work toward prosperity of our community,” he said.

Cradle to Career’s first project was launched last year with Williamsport students painting the windows of downtown businesses with fall themes. A contest to design the best logo is part of that initiative.

“We have a lot of things in the works to build this program,” said Cradle to Career Chair Jillian Ibbs. “We’re looking to hold career days at the schools, create an after-school program, and take it into the neighborhoods with beautification projects.”

Two evenings have been set aside for the Community Resource Fair to give students an opportunity to explore careers and community support systems.

The events will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 6 at Curtin Intermediate School and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 20 at Williamsport Area Middle School.

Katz said business representatives will be on hand to answer questions from students about their companies.

In April, students will be able to take part in the neighborhood beautification program which will involve sprucing up various parts of the city.

Students will plant flowers, paint signs and clean up parks.

Katz said such an initiative not only helps instill a work ethic, but a sense of pride for one’s city.

“We can keep the city strong block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood without spending lots of tax dollars,” he said.

Katz conceded the Cradle to Career initiative is an ambitious one that is being undertaken “one step at a time.”

Cradle to Career is a means of showing some students, including those at-risk, who may not believe good things can result from sweat and toil and teamwork.

Hopefully, it can also help some kids find their passion, their true calling, Katz said.

He referred to the old saying: It takes a village to raise a child.

“We have put the village together,” he added.

Businesses looking to be part of the Community Resource Fair can contact Katz at 570-322-5544.