Launching a Pre-Apprenticeship Program

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St. James School (Graduate Support Program)





Organization Overview:

St. James School is a faith-based Philadelphia middle school in the Episcopal tradition, committed to educating traditionally underresourced students in a nurturing environment. The school is a community that provides a challenging academic program and encourages the development of the moral, spiritual, intellectual, physical and creative gifts in its students.

The Graduate Support Program (GSP) at St. James School provides holistic support for St. James graduates to and through high school and post-secondary education. With over 70 graduates and three full-time staff members, the program leverages the relationships built during middle school years to empower our graduates to graduate from high school, choose a best fit post-secondary education and training plan and enjoy healthy and happy lives into adulthood.

Project Name:

Launching a Pre-Apprenticeship Program
Project Type: 
Program Development

Project Overview:

Young people want to work! 

And many need to work. Out of our 27 high school seniors, 18 report that they are required to contribute to their households’ finances each month. This expectation can have negative consequences on young peoples’ education and career development. Among other things, the Graduate Support Program Workforce Initiative wants to leverage this desire for work to better prepare young people for a long term career path with a living wage and not just a future dependent on a minimum wage paycheck.

As St. James School's oldest graduates prepare to graduate from high school they are pursuing a wide range of post-secondary options including four-year colleges, community college and trade schools. The Workforce Initiative is determined to broaden the options for those not attending college.

For years trade apprenticeships offered a viable path to a well paying and rewarding career to young people for whom college is not the best choice. However, in the city of Philadelphia, access and exposure to the trades have been virtually non-existent for poor, young people of color, particularly those living in west and north Philly. The Graduate Support program's Workforce Initiative is an effort to reverse this trend and expose St. James graduates to a wide range of post-secondary options that exist outside of the traditional four-year college track. College is not for everybody and with the increasing cost of college, it is becoming less and less viable for high school graduates.

The first program we are developing within this initiative is a paid Pre-Apprenticeship Program. This program partners with a wide range of laborers and contractors who agree to provide a short-term, hands-on work experience for young people. Students’ work is paid by St. James School Graduate Support Program for the first month until the point at which their skills are ready for the job market.


We would like a student to prepare a report that includes some of the following elements: 
- A review of best practices from similar pre-apprenticeship programs around the region and country
- A list of potential employer partnerships including, but not limited to: building trades, health care, independent contractors and more (a student could also help us start to pursue these partnerships)
- A list of potential vocational and trade schools for continuing education for participants (a student could also help us start to pursue these partnerships)
- Discussion of potential sources of funding
- Program evaluation tools for both students and employers
- Promotional materials for potential students and employer partners

A student would not necessarily need to cover all of the elements above but could tailor the final deliverable to his/her interests and time constraints. 

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326

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