Bringing in the Clowns to Celebrate Ready for Work

March 16, 2018

By Amy Selco, Vice President of Development and Investor Relations

Photo Credit, KochFoto LLC

It was a great day under the big top! On Saturday, March 10, Venture Philanthropy Partners hosted a celebration of Ready for Work: Champions for Career and College Ready Graduates of Prince George’s County.

With the support of our event sponsors, Ready for Work students from Suitland, Oxon Hill and High Point high schools and nonprofit partners spent the afternoon at a performance by Big Apple Circus. We were joined by VPP board members and investors, supporters and government leaders. Everyone had a great time watching the jugglers, flying trapeze artists and the amazing Wallenda Families’ high-wire act!

Before the show, we kicked things off with a reception for Ready for Work supporters and their families, including corporate, educational and government leaders. We were thrilled to be joined by Big Apple’s Ringmaster Ty McFarlan, Clowns Mr. Joel and Skip and the “King of the High Wire,” Nik Wallenda.

VPP President and CEO Carol Thompson Cole and board member and investor Lauren Peterson of Peterson Companies welcomed guests and highlighted the great strides that Ready for Work has made since it was launched in 2015. At Suitland High School during the 2016-17 school year, Ready for Work served over 1,300 students.

Ready for Work also partners with organizations like Year Up, to prepare students for careers with internships and job placements at companies like Industrial Bank, Kaiser, Wegman’s, Marriott and Fannie Mae, among others. It was a strong reminder that this is a community that cares deeply about ensuring that students have the education, guidance and training that they need to succeed – the reason that brought us all together for this event!

We were honored to be joined by an inspiring guest. Jade is a graduate of Suitland High School and a Year Up alum. Year Up is one of five nonprofit organizations that is part of the Ready for Work youthCONNECT strategy at Suitland. The organization provides young adults with full-time training in technical and professional skills culminating in six-month customized internships with corporate and government partners in the region.

At the event, Jade told us about her experience with Year Up and how it transformed her life. When Jade graduated from high school in 2016, she had just become a mother and had to completely re-imagine her plans for the future. Jade was working at a local restaurant when she heard about Year Up and after learning more about it, decided to sign up.

Through the program, she got the resources and support she needed to know that she could still pursue her career while taking care of her new family. Year Up placed Jade in an internship at Fannie Mae as part of the program. She used the skills that she learned and the confidence that she gained from Year Up to pursue full-time employment – and she achieved her goal. Jade is now an analyst at Fannie Mae.

While we were all at the circus to relax and enjoy the day, it was heartening and so powerful to hear Jade’s story – it was an important reminder that Ready for Work organizations like Year Up truly transform lives.

VPP would like to extend a big thank you to our event sponsors, Peterson Companies, Pepco, NAI Michael, Real Time Cases, Wegmans and Big Apple Circus for supporting the event and our major supporters of Ready for Work: Prince George’s County Public School System, The Peterson Family Foundation, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, The Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, Capitol One Bank and Prince George’s County Council.

Check out the Storify and photo album that we created for this event!