Left to right: Jeff Black, Chief Executive Officer of Energy North, and member of the Board of Directors at It Kicks! Foundation, Susan Ring Brown, Director of Foundation and Legacy Engagement at Northeast Arc, and Kristina Wood, Executive Director of the It Kicks! Foundation, during a kickoff event celebrating the launch of the foundation and grantees, including Northeast Arc.
Launched in November 2022, Pathways is a collaborative educational initiative between Northeast Arc and Lynn Classical High School. The program provides students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to create connectedness through a mentorship program that also provides life-skill building, mentorship, and paid participation and internships. One goal of this program is to develop a pipeline of diverse, well-prepared, and caring staff for human service agencies, including Northeast Arc.
Energy North established the It Kicks! Foundation in June 2023, with the goal of fueling communities by listening, partnering and investing in youth and education across Northeastern Massachusetts. The grant to Northeast Arc will be delivered over the course of three years.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Northeast Arc on its Pathways to Opportunities program,” said Matthew LaLone, member of the Board of Directors at the It Kicks! Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of Northeast Arc. “This program is an innovative solution to build a talent pipeline for human services agencies while supporting youth education and development.”
The initial cohort of Pathways to Opportunities students is finishing its first year of the program. Throughout the past 9 months, students have learned about all aspects of Northeast Arc and the human services field, including paid internships working directly with individuals supported by the agency. Pathways participants have also received training including Red Cross CPR, First Aid certification, and financial literacy, including opening their first bank accounts. Students, upon graduation, will be given priority application status to 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.
“In just the first few months of Pathways, we have already seen it serve as a connection for participating students, empowering them to discover personal growth through collaborative experiences,” said Tim Brown, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Northeast Arc. “We are looking forward to opportunities to expand Pathways into other communities in Essex County so we can increase the reach of this program.”
Pathways is free to students, and is made possible by a diverse coalition of a dozen different foundations, organizations, and individuals.