Words On Water #124: John Fletcher and Kraig Moodie on the YH2O Mentoring Program in Baltimore


The word aw her high welcome towards on water a podcast from the water environment federation. This is the host Travis Travis loop really excited for this conversation today about an incredible workforce program In Baltimore I'm joined and by John Fletcher with Dukes. He's Atlantic Regional Manager. John how are you doing. Awesome and with Craig Moody. He's president of flow wave Craig. How's it going great? I had the chance to hear about this program at one of our our West Max meetings and it was just really a compelling incredible story about about what has been put together there in Baltimore before we dive into the whole story. Of how evolved. Could you Kinda give a summary of what this program is. I guess it's a youth mentorship technical training program Journal Taco been compliments about the history of the program a basically. It's a program vite up into three phases where the initial phase focus on about eight weeks focusing on job readiness training overall just professional skills communication appearance Interview things of that nature that goes into a phase two which lasts about ten weeks enduring phases wanted to participants of the program are asked to attend two days a week for three hours each day. That is unpaid attendance. Investment into the program and in phase two. They you get more of a technical exposure to the water wastewater industry so they'll do job tours site visits. They'll go to different facilities within the city of Baltimore or Baltimore. County wastewater treatment plants pump stations laboratories. And then the lawsuit spent some time with private contractors field doing Line inspections winds route. Control In place rehabilitation things of that nature and then during phase three or the final phase of the programme. They drop into the city's youth works program which is a global city program which employs about a thousand younger adults swam across all departments of the city in other companies. Participate with that program in. This program is about fifteen to twenty participants in the fall into that net is pay five days a week job in following that there's a career fair and then they go into more of a longterm pointed situation. That's a really really incredible program. So I'm looking forward to hearing how that evolved into in that's a lot of work right to take To take people in what ages of this it's usually on the program is open to eighteen to twenty four okay residents of the city of Baltimore that heavy high school degree or geology eighty This is just graduated. Our fifth class were moving into the sixth class. Historically the classes have been fifteen eighteen participants this year. The city due to the success of the program the Internal Promotions of the program in some of the additional supporters. Orders for the program there in bill from fifteen to twenty five participants fantastic fantastic. So how did this all get started a wended. Let's get started well. Interestingly enough the direct result of City Baltimore hosting the two thousand fourteen specially questions conference which I was lucky enough to be the local chair. Okay and I had at the time bureau chief Rudy Chow was my co chair. And he really loves supported he really helped goes out and has been very very successful conference and by the time we actually had the conference he had been promoted to director. I gotta a lot of time with Rudy Chow. Just discussing all sorts of things about city Baltimore and one of the things that he mentioned. Several Times was just frustration with the fact that at any given time he'd have two to three hundred open jobs just couldn't fill it was always very Frustrated about that and then at the end of the conference we have this big celebratory. We're done we don't want to do this anymore. Party at Delicias Mullaly and talking with a guy named David Archer a lot of people will know him and he had shared with me a story from a few years earlier where he was at the council. The government's conference in. DC At happened to be talking with Sheila Dixon Break and she was lamenting the fact. That wish you could do something about the fact that at any given time there's roughly a hundred thousand us in the city of volatile not Note no way to get out and just had little one of those light bulbs and I was like holy cow. Hillary grabbed him. It's still stares David Archer and I found pregnant. Egging found direct child in a pullover foreigner. I just said tell me what you just told me. And he shared that sit rudy. How many times have you told me that you can't fill jobs shops so it took six months of meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting with meeting with different parts legal department human resources office the mayor and it wasn't until Gentlemen Ernest Dorsey doors was director of the mayor's Office of Employment Developed Sadden meetings and just finally he just stopped said? Wait a minute this is what we do and we always talk about that now. This is what we do And it just developed. The first year was was I feel like we got thrown together faster. He was there six six weeks later. Programs are wow. That's incredible and we were kind of thinking that we would started January. Two Thousand Sixteen like we're starting January fifty and then and it's really the success because there was a true partnership between city of Baltimore and the Chesapeake. What Vital Association? So the Jesuit. Imagine what Craig talked about the details. It takes so many volunteers and one thing he didn't mention is that every single one of us are cared coach slash mental. ooh ooh and that was one of the limiting limiting factor. That's why getting about fifteen. Yep Abby really serious about this and we were very fortunate in the beginning years that a big big brothers. Big Sisters stepped in and did a lot of coaching. The coaches like. Here's how you here's how you work with people that this age these these young younger individuals Scholz's with all it's an we were down. Couple of sessions with them Tippett's big rose basis or the great chesapeake and they typically are doing med tours. They want youth mentors for children. They're a much younger age bracket than the program that we're dealing with sweet talk. They're Kinda Standard Mentor. Training in evolved into a career coach training obviously much shorter time commitment and did a couple of sessions so every coach is required to go through that. At least once you have a lot of folks that are repeat previously. It's the same training but we do require in a lot of it. Is Communication skills however bridge the age gap in because because a lot of our coaches are more experienced. Industry Professor Yes so that boundaries things involved involve things about the involved with because again primary focuses career. Coaching not necessarily managing personal situations. But we had number of coaches that they do get involved. We have everything from people that participate in the group events and kind of limited to that plus Navy subjects communication. All the way to some of our coaches even today have I've literally a reunion with their first year second year. Third Year Participants program now go out and have a weekend barbecue or something like that density Kinsey originals. Sure I really want to hear more about how The experience went of putting this in place. And what so you saw As you took these these young adults and plugged them into this program. And how how that went that no there were varying levels of success right and so what. What was that like? It's interesting because you're the first day you can all all these use participants coming from all around the city and meeting joke for the first time and we take a group picture and then at at graduation deserved. There's a very formal graduation ceremony that the mayor comes to director comes along commissioners who they are and take a picture again and it's two totally different group of people allow And and as one of the deputy director I think near to she was was kind of almost told do this with us but she really got totally enrolled in it she. She became very very hall and she made a comment somewhere in the second year so that she can always tell which us for the whole city summer summer. Internships coming out this program. Because they're just more they learn Visual the whole the elevator door before you think things. Yeah so it's it's it's really neat to see the because most of the cases you see them really grow out shells This is a very. It's a very very new type of environment. It's a very different experience. They haven't had this type of training type of coaching than exposed to professional kind of career and all assets very very new world for them. I think Judge Ernest Dorsey from the mayor's office blaming development. I think the person who really kind of hold the program together. Obviously there's a board of directors kind of guide the the path of the path together but Anthony Green works within the mayor's there's officers appointed development works for and it's kind of the guy behind the scenes. It really holds the entire program together. He's the person of the participants come to every week. Look at his facility in Easel goes through a lot of those professional skills in the velvet of skills and work with them on a regular basis Just making sure. They're there on time making sure that they kind of develop. It's almost like a obviously have men and women so it's like a fraternity so speak That this class because because they do look out for Joe Yeah. Yeh Jim did show up this week. on hall Carpool things like that. So they really do gotta develop a bond if you will for the class which you can see also talking about each other? They talk about share experiences and things like that. So it's impressive. He's able to building from a group of fifteen or in this case. Twenty five for dispense. That really did know each other companies door so you can tell at the at the end of the year how much they respect him. It's it's really made you know the joke with at by the end. They're all joking with marriage a complete. It's a transformation wow personalities by He he gives them a lot of tough love. You really does Sharon. He's impressive man. Some and then what's so talk about the impact. Then on you know the the Public Works Department and actually these job openings right. What what? Have the graduates of this program. Gone onto deal all cross-border some of working for Baltimore County over counts. A lot of volume says a lot of them once again. Orange County last year. Engineering firm has picked up a couple And everything from an operator outfield outfield to a legal department. Someone went to the communication apartment data entry clerk. So it's really you know we vote worse than we think water and sewer and going out in the field for every person that works out in the field is fifties that are behind scenes so it's not limited Solely to operate type work. It's work wherever you're still proved to rise to the top. That's where we're GONNA help directly towards within the within the organization that you end up with. I think that's one of the things that CWA brought to the table obviously the city of Baltimore VW doing this to for their succession. I should planning for their workforce development within the city And they do invest a lot of time effort resources into the program but as part of that career fair that I mentioned the phase as three before the participants into an actual fulltime job position That career fair foods private companies consulting firms services companies and other utilities That have also participated in the program as coaches. John Mentioned Baltimore County. We also have a strong uh support from Howard County. I in Toronto's attended the county's attended the career fair and then just recently Maryland environmental services hired today a participant this year through some of their involvement. They've got a coach in law from the from the beginning and allow support from them as well. So it's I think ninety seven percent the placement rate that's phenomenal officials of participants. They graduate program. Yeah so every year we start fifteen typically due to other career opportunities or other Oh situations twelve to thirteen graduate each year and of those ninety seven have received an initial offer. WanNa say the number is about eighty five percent one of the people of participants that are still employed. Yeah now there's been a lot of stories about you know some. Some participants have gone to private sector work therefore couple years and then come back to the city Sullivan gone to the county. Come back to the city. There's been a lot of different pass and I know the city keeps up with them. Keeps track track of Understand their opportunities to develop but we had one for just went to work for one of the local consultants spent two years there. It was very happy. Had a great experience just attended this past years career fair and ended up getting a job back in the city. So it's a full circle and I think probably the UH one of the shining stars of the program is Raquel Robbins. She was a graduate of the first year of the program was the twenty eighteen in twenty nineteen. DPW employee of the ear. She She wanted to play you. The months in an odyssey plays mother. I'll put into a cool if she was voted selected as employees of the year. And that's the twenty five hundred employees within just DPW. Let's see Baltimore so that's fantastic GW. Great Job we've also made success stories like that Rock Hill is truly. She disguised. But there's been so many sure that have just just come into their own right out of the gate to like within a year to become true professionals working for the city Baltimore offer for whoever is just so rewarding walk into able won't building and sees them working over there that they came to this program. Yeah Yeah I'm really impressed by those statistics about pretty good graduation rate and then at that placement rate is incredible and it's great to hear them just get into career right. Yeah the city had the support. This that'd be great if there with DPW but it's great to have them It's great to have them get a job any place in NBA into the kind of broader sector from the year fairly regularly. As I've got a checking account for the first time in my life I've I've I've I got my old apartment. I moved out of my house. I've got a car just the things that we take for granted. And now they're they're they're out there and you're pushing uh-huh transforming their lives transforming the lives of several massive. It'll move several moose. Local news stations have had the one we share with you at weapons on your salutes. Where individual graduates are con- highland? So I want my point is that it's yeah we've had some real shining stars with Dick all tremendous it comes out of dreams and then they probably are ambassadors if you will for careers like this and for for the program itself but also for you know what you can do if you if you put your head down and you take training. Hey there's these jobs out here you can get. These are good jobs and like he said you could be working in an office. She working as an operator. Whatever it is right there become ambassadors for kind of the sector? That's actually one of the most common answers were there were participants. Spencer asked what he went out its program or why did you get into this program or whatever. The number one answer is absolutely free career. Not a lot of them come from from Fast food type jobs and also a lot of them are valets and things like that on the resumes because obviously reform interview process. That's what they were looking for. They want career something. They can invest their time to get the benefits. Compensation allowed to go back to your original ambassador comment on number of the participants. This year in the past couple of years are either siblings or family members of prior graduates So the message is getting out there. there's also anthony talks a lot about this. There's there's folks in the community that he gets calls from saying. Hey I know so-and-so's accessible as program librium were submitting applications for these other family members To be part of this zero changed their lives as so awesome. Yeah that's good stuff love it. Is there a a website or page or anything where people can learn about more about this. There definitely is a couple of options. I would say the city of Baltimore for roadworks website as has a section the application additional information on the about us and then also the chesapeake water environments sociation. We have a link on our website as well for both the application location and also for national gration and and a couple of years ago of the mayor is branded now called why to use water. I like it releases colluded with that on an asthma really wonderful recognition. Two years ago threes. We won the West was a Community outreach award from West was presented Than last year we won a the grant funds from Amazon for sustainability programs and then also just recently a local award for the Baltimore. Baltimore Talk. Committee is a local business organization that rewards local programs and different things for the city of reaching out involving humidity I mean this is Those of us that have our from that area or bend area or know about Baltimore. This is Something that's needed in the in the city right. They need some opportunities for for young people to to Kinda get out of the situations that Iran and find career and and find some purpose. You know and so it's it's a great place for this to be happening. It is an north four really important to point out the fact that I mentioned early on this is a true partnership between. CWA Baltimore because without each of them giving a complete commitment. So we now have a subcommittee with Zita struggle about plus the whole side of the seat of a portion of it option. Parliament were to the side and just the number of volunteers have from all across the board. We literally have every year dozens and dozens of people involved in just giving their time to make the successful. And you said it's going up from the usual fifteen to twenty five. Now that's that's a pig expansion. It's a big jump right you'll Award sounds like it's time they've built up. The foundation City decided to make a jungles day. They're expanding into some other departments. Musso LABASA begins folks evolved from solid waste and some other things things just to see. If it's something that we've been able to capture success within water wastewater orphan something that is scalable to other art with sure. Sure excellent while John and Craig. I'm glad we get to catch up and have this conversation. It's a really inspiring program a look forward to share in the store with people. But thank you guys. Thank you art

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