At just 13, Alicia Strange worked her first job by obtaining her Working Permit through the City of Philadelphia School District Education Center. A summer program called WorkReady gives many youth across the city of Philadelphia, ages 12-24 access to a meaningful paid work experience during the summer that promotes self-efficacy. This offers the opportunity to build transferable skills required to secure and sustain employment in the future workforce for many young adults. Excited about her first gig and to make her own money, she spent four days a week for six weeks of her summer cleaning up, painting and restoring the hallways and classrooms of a local school. When it was all refurbished and the first day of school was right around the corner, she felt most rewarded by the new friends she had made and the influential adults that had impacted her. Through this invaluable experience, she began her journey of community engagement and development.
Alicia currently works with the Dream Academy Learning Center at G.W. Child’s Elementary School as a Mentor Coordinator. While her day to day responsibilities include project management, her work is focused on connecting the organization with individuals and strategic partners that help contribute to empowering the next generation of youth. She focuses primarily on connecting middle school students one on one with caring, positive and nurturing adults - their new mentors. Alicia says that what inspires her is “anything that can help me or my community cultivate to a higher level of learning and doing. Growth, development and innovation.”
She decided to attend the CEA Learning Series training on Targeting & Recruitment because she was eager to learn new ideas that she could implement in her work. Alicia says that she wants to be “that annoying lady” that will not give up on people by implementing the Rule of 7. She continued to say that the training opened her eyes to push her strengths and growing her resilience. Alicia took what she learned and implemented it at her “Barber Shop Talks: Heads Up for Our Youth” event. Her goal for this event was to target local barber shops in South Philadelphia and beyond, getting them involved in becoming community leaders and connecting them with young males. She knows it is important for young black men to see others in their community with a positive presence. She believes that men who have a platform to discuss how they can make a change in their community can directly start a conversation to assist, engage and impact young black men and boys. “This was my first year doing this, my outcome was small, but I’m going to launch it every summer until I have a village of barbershop owners who sees this as a powerful tool and method to uplift our young brown and black men, as well as our communities.”
Moving forward, Alicia plans to continue to promote civic education and aid in neighborhood investments that impact inclusive education on socio-economic development. Over the next 3 years, she wants to continue to connect youth to adult mentors with the overall goal of combatting the school-to-prison-pipeline, by breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration for young people. As a self described leader and optimist, she is a confident believer in working to make a positive impact in our City.
How can CEA Learning Series trainings impact your work? Register now for any of our upcoming trainings!