Providing opportunities for youth to develop leadership

After hiring 10 youth in 2008, and 34 youth in 2009 Puente became the largest youth employer on the South Coast by hiring 41 youth to work in Puente programs as child care providers, tutors, camp counselors, and office support. This represented nearly 30% of the students at Pescadero High School. The youth competed a 60 hour orientation that included First Aid and CPR Certification, resume preparation, leadership development and training. To underscore our commitment to support continuing education, Puente presented five Youth Bridges Scholarships to high school seniors that had worked at Puente.

Program components include:

  • Counseling. Puente counselors pay particular attention to youth/family mental and physical health needs, as well as focus on credit completion, graduation requirements, and status of competency exams, career and vocational education opportunities.
  • Credit Accrual. Programs such as California’s Portable Assisted Study Sequence (PASS) enable students to make up or earn extra credits when they are away from school. Puente works closely with Pescadero High School staff to identify youth that can benefit from the PASS program and in some cases underwrites its costs.
  • Tutoring. Puente provides one-on-one tutoring for high school students on subjects such as math, science, English for English learners, as well as PSAT and GED preparation. Puente also provides an opportunity for Middle School and High School students to tutor younger children, their peers, and adults.
  • Special Summer and After School Programs. Puente offers summer and after school youth employment, field trips to colleges and universities, as well as trips to cultural institutions throughout the region.
  • Leadership Development Opportunities. Puente youth staff is provided with extensive training on team building, group and individual decision-making, cultural differences, alcohol and drug prevention, First AID and CPR, and more.
  • Internships and Job Shadowing. Employment at Puente serves as a nonprofit internship. In addition, when possible, youth shadow adults in jobs that might be of possible career interest.
  • Mentoring. Each youth is provided with an adult mentor to provide academic, social and career support.
  • Career Awareness. Puente works with youth to identify career interests and creates opportunities for youth to meet with adults who work in various occupations.
  • Work Experience. Puente is the largest employer of youth on the South Coast. Through paid employment and community service opportunities, youth learn basic job skills, earn monies that support themselves and their families, and are exposed to numerous work opportunities.
  • Follow-Up Services. Puente provides a variety of safety net as well as health and wellness and literacy programs for children and adults. Participants in Puente programs are followed for at least one year following their graduation from the program through phone, individual and group sessions.