Local African-American males will have opportunities to explore various career paths within the Springfield community through a new mentoring and internship program announced by Lincoln Land Community College and The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.
The Open Door program, funded by the Chamber’s Quantum Growth Economic Development Partnership (Q5), will begin this fall when 20-30 African-American males who attend LLCC will be offered mentoring and internships at local businesses and organizations.
Michael Phelon of Springfield has been hired as coordinator for the program. He will work with participants to ensure academic success and to place them with local businesses for internships and mentorships.
“The program will provide minority students with strategic opportunities to ‘try on’ various careers that exist within our community,” said Chamber President and CEO Chris Hembrough. “The opportunities will result in internships through local businesses and organizations, provide a combination of academic and business mentoring, and ultimately lead to employment opportunities related to the career path they have both discovered and decided to pursue.”
A little over two years ago, Hanson Professional Services, the City of Springfield and Sangamon County created a partnership called “Grow Our Own,” focused on providing minority students the opportunity to explore STEM-related careers, specifically engineering. According to Hanson Chairman and CEO Satch Pecori, “The program has been very well received and spurred interest in non-STEM related fields. The Open Door program expands into other career opportunities from banking and accounting to insurance, medical fields, IT and everything in between.”
LLCC answered the call by creating the new program with funding provided by The Chamber’s Q5 Strategic Leadership Council. “We’re extremely excited about this endeavor and the potential it has to change the trajectory of students’ lives,” said Dr. Charlotte Warren, president of LLCC. “We envision it as a transformational game-changer, opening up a world of new possibilities for participating students.”
Several businesses have already committed to partnering with LLCC and the Chamber in the program. “Our community is rich with talent and opportunity,” said Hembrough. “We see this as a great way to bring the two together, providing career opportunities while addressing future workforce needs and keeping our talented young people right here in Springfield for years to come.”
Local businesses and organizations interested in participating in the program should contact Hembrough or Sarah Graham with the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.