U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, San Diego State and Stanford – these are some of universities where Bay Area youth from low-to-moderate income communities will be heading this fall thanks to Genesys Works Bay Area.
Based in Oakland, California, Genesys Works Bay Area provides college and career pathways to young people from underserved communities. In May, with the sponsorship support of U.S. Bank, the organization celebrated its latest cohort of 46 high school seniors who completed a 14-month skills training and internship program and are now college-bound.
Christopher Ward, a first-generation college student, is one of the Genesys Works graduates.
“Growing up in Oakland, I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to do clubs, explore my interests and better myself. In the past I felt that I was not good enough...that I did not have the accomplishments and the resources to compete. So why would I waste my time trying? Then I joined Genesys Works. When I first joined the program, I was nervous … but it felt welcoming,” Ward said. “I soon realized that the program is potential based. It offers a safe environment to learn, which helped me find ambition within myself.”
Ward landed a paid position as a Communications Intern at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) through Genesys Works. During his internship, Ward was part of the team, informing SFMTA stakeholders of upcoming and ongoing transportation and facilities projects. He learned how to develop and prepare communication materials, meetings, and presentations, and gained experience in customer service and data entry. During his time at Genesys Works, he was accepted into Stanford University where he will be starting fall of 2023. He plans to use the skills he obtained on his college and career path moving forward.
“There is a certain level of confidence you gain when you obtain an internship.” Ward said. “You’ve gone through the application process and the summer training, and you know that they picked you, both the company and Genesys Works picked you for that internship spot.”
During the 14-month Genesys Works program, students received skills training and paid internship opportunities at prominent local companies like CBRE, DocuSign, Okta and Snowflake. Support for Genesys Works programming comes from corporate sponsors including U.S. Bank.
“These young professionals have resilience determination and grit,” shared Sahaar Rezaie, executive director of Genesys Works, during the recent cohort celebration. “They bring tremendous value to employers and our community.”
U.S. Bank District Manager Andrew Parsons joined the Genesys Works board in 2021, inspired by the group’s mission and his own experience growing up in a disadvantaged part of Los Angeles.
“A program like this can really change the trajectory of someone’s life and their family’s life,” he said. “I wish something like this existed in the community where I grew up. Being exposed to opportunities and resources far beyond what you see within your own family circumstances and neighborhood.”
For more information on Genesys Works, visit https://genesysworks.org/bay-area/.
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