We have over forty businesses and organizations who have expressed an interest in hosting an intern with Backpacks to Briefcases. I have been overwhelmed by the positive response by businesses to this program. As you may recall, in late December, MAWDB submitted an application to NC Department of Commerce for an additional $105,000 in funding. That request was quickly approved and as a result of this new funding, MAWDB will deploy “Backpacks to Briefcases” in our region. This program will help recent college graduates (from community colleges and four-year universities and colleges) who are unemployed or underemployed. The recent graduates must qualify as a low-income Adult pursuant to WIOA. The program will provide for a 12 week paid internship at a local host business. As our current Adult/DW contractors, AB Tech and Blue Ridge Community College will operate the mechanics of the program and serve as the “employer of record.” The participants will be required to enroll and complete a job readiness, soft skills class. AB Tech and Blue Ridge Community College are working jointly to develop the soft skills class. We only have funding for 20-25 internships but if more individuals apply, we certainly will assist them just as we would any other low-income Adult. We are working with local colleges and universities to recruit recent graduates. There may be a collaboration with Asheville Talent Jam to help more college students and graduates to connect with employers in our region.
This program has been deployed in the Triangle and the Wilmington area with much success. The goal is to keep talent in our region by connecting these recent graduates with local employment. Here is an op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer by Tom White, Director for Economic Development Partnerships with NC State University about “Backpacks to Briefcases”: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article100906197.html