Pictured are some of the participants in the Pathways to Opportunities program, alongside Northeast Arc staff. Kneeling left to right are: Kali Man, Vylexi Man, Emmelin Alvarado Back Row: Tavyana Man, Deeasia Man, Edwin Ventura, Susan Ring-Brown, Wysmicka Valquilla Douyon, Tatiana Chhot, Ziv Perez Center: Marleny Garcia, Maria Terris

Northeast Arc and the City of Lynn Public Schools have partnered to launch Pathways to Opportunities. This new program is designed to provide high school students with a mentorship program that will also provide life skill building, and paid internships. It will also prepare students for potential careers in the human services field.

“Many high school students do not feel connected and are experiencing greater social and economic insecurities,” said Maria Terris, Director, Pathways to Opportunities Program.  “This new after school program seeks to solve that problem by providing increased affirmation, positive relationships, and structured support that also allows them to earn some money.”

“This multi-year program will serve as a connection for participating students, empowering them to discover personal growth through collaborative experiences,” added Jo Ann Simons, President and CEO, Northeast Arc.  “Upon graduation, students who take part in this program will be given priority application status for open positions at Northeast Arc and will be supported, if they choose, to take full advantage of tuition reimbursement and tuition remission programs available to Northeast Arc employees.”

“We are very excited to partner with the Northeast Arc on this innovative program,” said Amy Dunn, Principal, Lynn Classical High School.  “The program is open to students in grades 9-12 with activities and learning opportunities that will be tailored to different age groups at times and repeated through a student’s four years.”

Programs like Pathways are made possible by funders who see the value in programs designed to expand the future human services workforce. In all, 10 different foundations, organizations, and individuals have contributed to Pathways representing a broad commitment to the program. Some of the public and private funders supporting Pathways to Opportunities were asked why they are supporting this program and responded as follows:

“The Tower Foundation is pleased to partner with Northeast Arc on its journey to support the diverse needs of individuals entering the human services field. The Pathways project aligns with one of the Foundation’s key goals: ‘Communities embrace young people with intellectual disabilities and provide them with a full range of supports and opportunities to engage in community life,’ and incorporates youth voice into the program’s design and implementation, which is an important value of the Foundation.”  – Tracy A. Sawicki, Executive Director, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.

Someone Else’s Child takes a collective action approach in our areas of focus: education, youth living with disabilities, and economic justice. Pathways to Opportunities is that rare program that embodies all aspects of our mission. We are honored to support Northeast Arc in developing a mentorship program that empowers high school students to discover innate skills through collaborative, internship experiences.”  – Michael Christian, Board President, Someone Else’s Child

“Investing in Pathways gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of two populations of importance to us: Lynn students in need of mentoring and people with disabilities in need of support to reach their goals. Our participation in this collaborative project of Northeast Arc and the Lynn Public Schools is a win, win.”  – Erin van Otterloo, Director of the Van Otterloo Family Foundation

Pathways to Opportunities will play a critical role in addressing the workforce challenges faced by human service agencies. The program will create a pipeline of caring and compassionate people interested in working with people with disabilities, improving the quality of service delivery for years to come.” – Nancy Huntington Stager, President and CEO, Eastern Bank Foundation

“We’re pleased to have Northeast Arc participating in our Urban Youth summer internship program and applaud their creation of the Pathways to Opportunities program to provide year-round mentoring for students exploring careers in the disability service field,” – Jennifer Killeen, Area Director, Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services North Shore Office

“What better way to address the shortage of human service sector workers than to intentionally and compassionately train and engage high school students in a human services career pathway? This is an opportunity for high school students to recognize that they have innate skills in caring for others that can lead to a meaningful career.  We are thrilled to be funding this innovative model.” –  Susan Monahan, on behalf of the Trustees of the John & Naomi Tomfohrde Foundation

“I am proud to support the Northeast Arc in building a program that complements existing resources and strengthens the human service sector in Lynn.” – Thomas Demakes, CEO, Old Neighborhood Foods

“The challenge of hiring dedicated employees is one of the most intractable problems organizations like Northeast Arc face. Pathways to Opportunities is the kind of innovation that is needed right now to build a pipeline of well-prepared, caring staff. I’m proud to continue my support of the leadership team’s creative approach by helping to launch this latest initiative.” – Steven Rosenthal, businessman and philanthropist

Additional funding for Pathways to Opportunities was provided by the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation.