Workforce development for Appleton’s marginalized high school students broke ground last week as Pointters Community Initiative held its first Career Focus Program.
The Career Focus Program, held by Pointters, a nonprofit for creating opportunities for minorities in the Fox Valley area, held the first of its new events that aim to equip students with resources to find a career path. More than 100 high school students from the Appleton Area School District attended the event to get a first-hand look at careers in healthcare, information technology and aviation.
The Pointters has been working with Fox Valley schools for a while now. They’ve found that BIPOC students are not often equipped with the knowledge or understanding to pursue a career.
“High school students, especially minority students, don’t attend career sessions, or they don’t have interests because of challenges at home,” Pointters founder Dimeji Tomori said.
At the Career Focus Program, employers and Pointters helped to give a realistic sense of what jobs in healthcare, IT and aviation entail. Students were given hands-on activities as the 100 attendees rotated between the programs with the hopes that it would inspire them to pursue higher education and find a career they may be interested in.
The approach for the workforce development program was not just activities. Students were given outlines on ideally what they would be paid if they chose to pursue a career in any of the paths presented at the event and how to get there.
“We want to make sure that students are ready for the workforce,” Tomori said. “We want to make sure that the graduation (rate) is high, so they can look up to something, and we want to make sure they get paired up with the right mentors to succeed.”
Pointters, and Tomori, wants to equip students with the tools to succeed in the field. Tomori feels for the students and has been at the brunt of trying to find himself back in the workforce in the past. His organization found that 40 percent of Black workers are not employed in the Fox Valley area.
Tomori pins this on cultural disconnects in the predominantly white workforces. When he was trying to find work again, he was encouraged to forgo his name and opt to go by “Tom” to increase his chances of getting recruited, despite holding an MBA and attending business programs at Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management.
Career Focus Program will hold another session for students on Oct. 24 and Pointters plans to continue the effort into next year with another session around January.