Talent nonprofit tries new career skills program for youth corrections

GRANTS PASS, Ore.–  A school district in Josephine County is trying an experiential new program that offers a hands-on learning experience for students at a youth corrections facility. The goal – provide exposure to realistic career opportunities.

At the Rogue Valley Youth Correction Facility’s New Bridge High School, students are getting an opportunity for a fresh start with some unfamiliar practices. The school district is partnering with Talent Maker City, a nonprofit organization from Talent that is trying out a new workshop with the school district known as R.I.S.E (Raising Innovative Solar Engineers).

“This is super exciting and inspirational to possibly make a difference in the young men’s lives here,” said Allison French, a member of Talent Maker City.

With the sun shining bright on Wednesday, organizers were calling it a perfect day for solar panel installation – the first course in this experiential program. Four weeks into this course and already the students are learning helpful skills that can translate to careers in the real world.

“In fact we started the programs here with looking at basic circuitry and looking at some snap circuits and looking at how wiring works a little bit,” said French. “How parallel circuits and series circuits work.”

Ashland-based solar company True South Solar is also a part of this course, helping students understand the benefits of renewable energy, use of state-of-art solar equipment and even installing solar panels on a demonstration roof.

For students like 18-year-old Brice these classes are a welcome opportunity to learn.

“I’ve taken enough from my community and I see it in my eyes as it’s my time to give back.”

It hasn’t always been easy but Brice says his time here at the correctional facility has helped open his eyes.

“What’s kept me going is the fight to see my family, make new friends, meet new people and finish high school,” he said. “My main priority now is to finish school.”

Brice says he’ll be graduating next summer and joining the real world and with skills he plans on getting from this new program he hopes to become the man his father is.

“My father was a construction worker for a while and he did houses a bunch of stuff,” he said. “I’m proud to be following in my father’s footsteps minus that I’m here. I made a small mistake and I’m hoping to change that.”

Talent Maker City which provides spaces for creative entrepreneurs and innovation says it will be providing a variety of programs such as 3-d rocketry, screen printing and robotics. The program is set to run all the way through June.

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