Partnering to help learners design and lead a purposeful life

On the first day of the Readiness Institute Summer Program, learners were asked to raise their hand if they want to be successful. Not only did every rising high school senior raise their hand, but they did so with confidence and pride, with a fearlessness and sense of purpose.

To create an environment that allows learners to thrive and achieve success, we need to equip them with the skills, attitudes, and values necessary to adapt and excel in an ever-changing world. We need to ask ourselves, “How can learners prepare for an increasingly complex world?” The answer is by enabling education, industry, and community partners to coordinate, collaborate, and create experiences for students to achieve community and future readiness. 

Financial literacy was one of the focal points of the week, so learners participated in a workshop presented by Alyssa Lyons and Michelle Fugate from Everfi. The students played a game of “Would You Rather?” that focused on financial dilemmas and led to discussions about how people made their decisions. Then, the students launched into independent modules to research a financial topic of their choice and came back together as a group, debriefed, and used their knowledge to tackle a handful of age-related financial “challenges” and create a presentation.

Learners also visited and toured Northwest Bank with community relations manager and assistant vice president LaMarcus Thurman. Students met with employees from a variety of departments and participated in workshops on real estate, financial advising, portfolio management, and more.

“The fact all these people took different routes to work at the same place reassured me that as a senior in high school, I don’t have to know exactly what I want to do,” said Summer Program participant Justina W.

The students also toured Inventionland, a 60,000-square-foot immersive work environment, and learned about the invention process — from concept to research, design to prototyping — and the process of applying for a patent. They also learned about a variety of post-secondary career options, including specialized designers, artists, writers, illustrators, photographers, engineers, videographers, strategists, seamstresses, and fabricators.

I learned that creativity is important, and we all have it in us; we just need to put it to use.

—Reha S.

Rachael Banks, assistant director of Penn State Admissions-Pittsburgh, visited with learners and provided an overview of the general admissions process for post-secondary education, shared her personal experiences, and spoke about the importance of finding a school that emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 

This week, our ongoing Community Design Challenges started off with students brainstorming ideas individually before coming together as a group to place their ideas on a difficulty-versus-importance graph. The graph, which was separated into four quadrants, helped students group ideas based on their level of difficulty and the importance/impact they’d have. This allowed students to determine which strategies are easy to accomplish while still being impactful (“low-hanging fruit”) and which strategies will require more time, influence, and/or funding to accomplish. 

We want to sincerely thank all our partners who are helping students design and lead a purposeful life. Together, we are making a difference by creating learners that are ripples of hope for our communities. 

Check out our photos from week 4. We can’t wait to share what’s next for our Summer Program learners!