NNBW Support Your Local Business Sweepstakes profile: Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates
EDITOR’S NOTE: On April 7, the NNBW launched the “Support Your Local Business Sweepstakes” as a way to support local businesses in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the Sweepstakes in April and May, we’ll be featuring each of our business partners in a special Q-and-A. Today, we profile the nonprofit Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates.
NNBW: Tell us about your business and some of the most important services you provide?
Answer: Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates (J4NG) is a nonprofit that inspires, supports and mentors students to create a powerful and positive future by graduating and finding a career pathway. This multi-year program starts for students in high school and continues for 12 months after graduation when students are starting post-secondary education, apprenticeships or jobs. Students are assigned Specialists who teach a curriculum that includes practical employment skills and career pathway exploration. After graduation, Specialists stay with the students to help them navigate their first year of adulthood, whether through a career, military enlistment or post-secondary education.
NNBW: What are some of the key things your business does to ensure premium levels of customer service?
Answer: J4NG places students first, and we are nimble and responsive to their needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all 60 J4NG Specialists are in weekly contact with each of the students that they serve, and are available to assist them on an as-needed basis. J4NG is offering students supportive services with needs arising from the crisis including assistance with food, bus passes, mortgage/rent and technology needs to access virtual learning. Our Specialists are assisting students in overcoming technological barriers to learning and are actively seeking individual solutions to each student’s needs. During regular school times, J4NG students are enrolled in an elective credit class at their school during a regular class period. In these classes, credentialed Specialists teach a curriculum focused on 87 employment and life skill competencies. Their Specialists are not only their teachers, but also their mentors, and as needed, a caring adult in a student’s life — unfortunately, something not all students have. Each student receives a minimum of 120 contact hours each year in the program providing individualized mentoring and coaching with the goal of inspiring each student to succeed in ways they never imagined.
NNBW: What makes Northern Nevada such a great place to own and operate a business?
Answer: J4NG was born in Northern Nevada, and our first programs opened in Reno, Sparks, Dayton and Carson City in 2013. J4NG then expanded and now serves students across Nevada in fourteen counties. We are committed to serving not only our great cities, but also our vibrant rural communities. Our laser focus is to help increase the unacceptably low graduation rates in Nevada, and our students have achieved a 97% graduation rate. Remarkable results have been achieved with J4NG’s highly effective model of success in high schools whose students have the most acute need for help.
NNBW: As a local business owner, why do you feel it’s important to give back to the community?
Answer: We’ve seen the immense generosity of the community in this time of crisis. It is now critically important to assist our friends and neighbors in need and help them through this tough time. As a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, schools across Nevada have shut down in-person learning. This is a delicate time for students, who no longer have the ability to learn in a classroom setting. Some of our most vulnerable students and their families will be affected by this economic downturn the earliest, they will be hit the hardest, and the resulting impacts will last the longest. This program is critical, now more than ever, to provide these vulnerable students along with their families tools they need to succeed.
NNBW: What are you doing to support other local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Answer: Despite rising demand for their services, many nonprofits are facing the worst challenge — a decrease in donors. Businesses who want to help are facing their own challenges and nonprofits are a regrettable casualty in uncertain times. There are ways to help. For example, of the nearly 3,600 students that J4NG serves, many don’t have access to computers in order to continue coursework during the school district shutdown. Q&D Construction, a Reno-based construction company, was able to donate 10 computers to J4NG for distribution to students and their families. J4NG is still seeking support from the community in the way of computer monitor donations as well as other necessary supplies. Contact Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to assist. Now is the time nonprofits really need us to help them help others. Additional ideas to support your favorite local nonprofit in this critical time include monetary donations, volunteering, and advocating for their cause.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.