Positive Path Program could introduce at-risk young adults to STEAM careers and more

Positive Path Program could introduce  at-risk young adults to STEAM  careers and more
February 16
17:14 2022

The City of Winston-Salem is considering a new initiative called the Positive Path Program which is designed to give young adults an opportunity to re-shape their lives through STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) exposure, mentors, hands-on training and life skills. 

Members of city council discussed the program during the Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 14. Councilmember James Taylor, who is publisher of The Chronicle and chair of the Public Safety Committee, said if the program is approved, it will serve as an alternative to the YouthBuild Program, which is designed to introduce at-risk youth to careers in construction.

Taylor mentioned he has worked closely with Assistant City Manager Johnnie Taylor to come up with ways to offer something new for young people. 

“Mr. Taylor and I have been in conversations with his team in operations and we’ve charged them with going back and looking at the YouthBuild Program,” James Taylor continued. “We’re looking to shift the focus from just construction to focusing on at-risk youth with science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”

The proposed six-month program will utilize a strategic curriculum and provide real-life examples of “pro-social behavior.” Participants are referred to as apprentices and paid the city’s minimum wage, with the opportunity to obtain their GED or a National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certificate. Participants will also be introduced opportunities in the STEAM field through training, mentorships, field trips, and other initiatives. The city also has plans to partner with local colleges and universities, and local businesses like Goodwill and Financial Pathways of the Piedmont. 

Program manager for YouthBuild, Faith Bartlett, said the mission of the Positive Path Program or “P3” is to take a holistic approach to reshaping lives and futures. “We’re also going to have mentors, hands-on training, and life skill class,” said Bartlett during the meeting earlier this week.  

“We’re going to use a holistic approach and a strategic curriculum while modeling pro-social behaviors.” 

During the first 60 days, participants will learn, demonstrate, and practice personal responsibility skills, job search strategies, and computer fluency. After graduating from the 26-week program, participants will receive six months of monthly contact from staff and possible follow-up services and incentives.

“The STEAM exposure and the mentorship is an excellent part of the program, as well as job shadowing and field trips, but I think the continued additional six months for supportive services is a nice addition to the program,” said Troy Sneed, assistant program manager for YouthBuild. Sneed said the best part of the Positive Path Program is that it doesn’t limit participants to one field. 

“The other thing that sets this program apart from YouthBuild is everyone doesn’t have to just go into construction. We have several different tracts including medical that goes from CNA to phlebotomy,” Sneed said. 

Other STEAM tracts participants can choose from include information technology, arts and engineering, and advanced manufacturing. 

The program will be open to young adults between the ages of 18-24 years old who come from a low-income household, be considered a youth/adult offender, or have an incarcerated guardian or caregiver. Participants must also be able to pass a city background check and lift 25 pounds. 

When discussing the program, several members of the Public Safety Committee asked if the age requirement could be lowered. 

“They’re really more at risk at 16 than 18,” said Councilmember Annette Scippio, who represents the East Ward. “They’re so many of them that age who are just wandering around.” 

Councilmember Barbara Hanes Burke said she would like to see the program offered to a younger crowd as well. She said, “I’m thinking younger as well … it’s never too early to learn trades and have opportunities for apprenticeship positions.” 

As presented during the meeting, the Positive Pathways Program would cost $191,000 with about $122,000 going to pay eight participants in the program. Burke and others said they would like to see more people enrolled. 

“That number needs to be higher and that number really needs to be based on data from the community,” Burke said. “We have a great need … how can we address the great need that we have in a larger way?” 

 Councilmember Jeff MacIntosh said he supports the program, but wants to see it make a real impact. “Eight people is great but it does not make that much of an impact in the city and we want programs that make an impact, a big impact,” he said. 

“Let’s figure out how this thing ramps, where does it go … how do we get it to 800 students a year?” MacIntosh asked. “That’s what I want to see.” 

Because the Positive Path Program was only a discussion item, no action was taken. City staff will make another presentation before it is tabled for a vote.

About Author

Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors