With the school year well underway, many students are already thinking about what the future holds, and how they can get ready for it. In Philadelphia, high school students have access to OST programs with embedded WorkReady supports to help them take the first step toward college and a career.

WorkReady is a city-wide program for young people ages 12 – 24. The program is a partnership between the Office of Children and Families (OCF), Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), and Philadelphia Works.

During the school year, PYN collaborates with the City’s Out-of-School Time (OST) programming, allowing high school students in OST programs to focus on college and career preparedness. From September to June, the students can earn a small incentive and get hands-on work experience while staying safe after the bell rings for the day. These opportunities often include resume building, on-site career exploration, informational interviews, and so much more. This ensures that students are well-equipped for a paid WorkReady experience during the summer.

At Dobbins Career and Technical Education (CTE) High School, a Philadelphia Community School, a WorkReady program offered by Steppingstone Scholars helps students make the jump from classroom learning to real world applications.

“With Dobbins being a CTE school, we have a lot programs and classes that give students an idea of what the working world looks like,” said Charles Reyes, Community School Coordinator at Dobbins, “Adding college and career readiness into it gets all of that knowledge and skills the kids have and actually puts them in real world situations, teaching them social skills needed to be part of the workforce.”

Through OCF OST programs, students in grades 9 through 12 receive monetary incentives as they complete certain activities as part of their regular OST program, and are encouraged to continue through the summer for additional experience and pay.

For Megan Jackson, manager of High School OST programming for OCF, WorkReady is just one piece of the City’s larger plan to keep teens and young adults engaged and on the path to a successful future.

“The OST providers go to such great lengths for the youth they serve,” Jackson says. “These programs give kids opportunities to really explore their futures in a safe and positive environment. They learn to be accountable, professional, prepared for the future, all while in a community of professionals designed to help support them.”

This past summer, nearly 7,000 Philadelphia students participated in WorkReady programs, giving them early access to future success through placements at major Philadelphia businesses, on-site roles with the Parks and Recreation Department, and more. These paid jobs provided youth with an important foundation for their future.

The blending of OST and WorkReady programs also provides students a chance at something many of them might not otherwise have: time to simply be a kid. And for program providers like Brianna Morales at Sunrise of Philadelphia, the OST Provider at South Philadelphia High School, that is key.

“A lot of youth in Philadelphia are given adult-like responsibilities at a young age, and our programs give them a safe space with trusted adults where they can discuss their personal lives individually or as a group, while also giving them the time and space to be kids and not worry about those responsibilities, even if it’s just for three hours a day.”

WorkReady is open to every student in the City through OCF partnership with the Philadelphia Youth Network. WorkReady applications for the summer open in Winter 2022. To learn more about WorkReady or sign up to be notified when the application is live, click here.

Other key WorkReady partners in this work include employers or philanthropic organizations such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Otto Haas Charitable Trust, Lenfest Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Comcast, Santander Bank, Philadelphia Foundation, PECO, and Wells Fargo.

All OST programs for students in high school prepare students to be successful in WorkReady Summer. To find an OST program near you, click here for the City’s interactive locator.

Families that are receiving services from the Department of Human Services (DHS) are given priority for DHS-funded OST programs. Families should contact their case manager or email DHSOST@phila.gov for information on how to sign up.

OST programs are offered for children and youth in grades pre-K through 12. Using the locator, you can search for programs that suit a specific age range. You can also narrow your results by ZIP code, keyword, price, and other factors.