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Youth Opportunity Program supervisors sought

STANFORD -- The Youth Opportunity Program (YOP) is seeking supervisors to provide a nurturing work environment for local youth this summer.

YOP, administered through Human Resources Services, is an "earning and learning" program for teenagers and young adults aged 14 to 21, with a special effort to recruit the economically disadvantaged, people of color and people with disabilities.

YOP places youth from local communities into part-time trainee positions on campus, matching the interests and skills of students with the job descriptions provided by the supervisors. Students receive a stipend for their work, and in addition to building employment skills, they are given guidance in planning their careers and their futures.

"A major goal of the program is a push to continue their education after high school," says program coordinator Valerie Beeman. "For some of these kids, the idea of going to college seems very remote; they think they're not smart enough, rich enough or the right color. Then they're exposed to people who encourage them -- people who will talk to them about their fears and point them in the right direction to be successful. The program is about looking to the future -- gaining some marketable skills and planning for life after graduation."

Beverly Fomby, a program specialist in the Office for Multicultural Development, spent her last two years of high school participating in YOP, working in the old News and Publications department (now two separate units of Public Affairs). She then entered the Air Force for four years and came right back to Stanford to pursue her career. She says she was "very fortunate to have worked with staff who taught me the basics of working as a team member and gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts."

Fomby says she feels strongly that students from local communities represent the future, and that "a supervisor needs to have a positive attitude, set rules, establish a good working relationship and apply some patience" to help the students succeed.

The community outreach program has been bringing local youth to campus since 1968, Beeman says, "but a lot of supervisors still don't know about the program, which means they're missing out on the chance to teach skills and instill confidence in a young person that could change that student's life."

Marianne Schneider Hanel, a supervisor in the Office of Development, has been a YOP supervisor for many years. She says she is thrilled with her current YOP student, Maria Alcantar.

"When Maria started here, she was just looking to get out of high school, get married and start having babies," Hanel says. With exposure to the working world and the opportunity to learn new skills and meet Stanford students and staff members, Hanel says Maria has changed her mind about what she's going to do after graduation.

"She's really motivated to go to college now," Hanel says, "and I'm so proud of how she's blossomed. She's very ambitious and just needed some direction and the ability to do something meaningful."

The Youth Opportunity Program is partly supported by the university, with additional funds garnered through outside community agencies, corporations and foundations, such as the current grants from Sun Microsystems Inc. and the Koret Foundation. Funds available for the summer program are very low, so departments that want a student part-time are being encouraged to be resourceful in finding the funds to support the students. But even if the department has no funds available, administrators should contact the YOP office anyway.

"We work with county agencies in San Mateo and Santa Clara," Beeman says, "and are hopeful they will provide stipend funding for a limited number of students this summer."

Faculty or postdoctoral students are especially encouraged to consider a YOP student to help with research or in the lab this summer. The program receives applications from many students interested in the sciences or medicine, and the objective is to place them in a department where they can get some exposure to that field.

Contact Beeman and others associated with YOP by calling 723-1144 or via e-mail at AT.YOP@forsythe.



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