Written by guest blogger John C. Gregory,
President & CEO of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce
& Jeremy Chiappetta, Executive Director at BVP

“My shadow day was at Fidelity Investments. I was always interested and fascinated by stocks and bonds and business in general. Getting a shadow day at Fidelity is really rare. It’s amazing that I was able to shadow there.”
– Sebastian Zuluaga, BVP class of 2018

Sebastian is a junior at Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy, college class of 2022, and a hopeful future employee of Fidelity Investments. After spending one day at Fidelity shadowing an employee, experiencing the workspace, and building a relationship with a professional in the banking world, Sebastian was able to imagine what life post high school and post college could look like. He was one of thirty-three scholars who participated in BVP’s Partnerships for Success Program, a new initiative that aims to help high school students explore career interests through shadow days across various fields.

(Oswaldo, Maia, Samantha, Sam, and Elier learn about and experience drone technology)

The truth is we can’t talk about education without reflecting on workforce development and we can’t talk about workforce development without a K-12 education that is preparing RI students for success in college and career. We know from the most recent data published by Rhode Island Kids Count that by 2020, 71% of all jobs in RI will require a post-secondary education, yet in 2015, only 59% of high school students enrolled in college within 6 months of graduation and only 46% persisted and enrolled in a third semester. More than half of RI students aren’t even completing two years of college coursework. As leaders of a network of public charter schools and a Chamber of Commerce, we owe it to our young people to do everything we can to ensure that they have a fair shot at meeting the demands of RI’s evolving and growing job sector.

At the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the membership ranges from banking institutions like Fidelity Investments to small business owners in the Blackstone Valley. Fidelity Investment’s participation in Blackstone Valley Prep’s shadow day initiative demonstrates the need for educators and members of the business community to partner and collaborate to support education that is going to prepare RI’s children to take on the jobs of the future, to stay in our state, and to invest in her.

(Cesar, Andrew, Faith, and Sophia spent a morning shadowing Dr. Bradley Collins at The Miriam Hospital)

Just last week during BVP’s April vacation, 47 more BVP scholars shadowed professionals at Pawtucket Red Sox, Rhode Island Foundation, Landmark Medical Center, Central Falls Police Department, and Roger Williams University Law School, just to name a few. We are so proud of and excited for the over 70 BVP scholars who opted into this opportunity and grateful for the companies and organizations who opened their workspaces and welcomed scholars in. If ever you doubt the power of building relationships with students through your career, take a moment to hear a few of our scholars reflect on their experience in February: http://bit.ly/FebShadowReflection.

Workforce Development is a critical component of our present and future success. Shadow days are a great way to expose our business and community leaders of the future to the different types of companies and positions that are available in our area. Members of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce are encouraged to consider hosting a student for a shadow day.

(Cesar sits in a leadership meeting with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza)

Special shout out to the following businesses, organizations, elected officials for supporting Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy’s Partnerships for Success initiative: Lieutenant Governor Dan Mckee, Mayor James Diossa, Mayor Jorge Elorza, Mayor Donald Grebien, Odeh Engineers, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Pawtucket Red Sox, Arrow Street, Blackstone Valley Pediatrics, Bryant University, Fidelity Investments, Truesdale Health, RI School of Design, Spumoni’s, The Miriam Hospital, Navigant Credit Union, Rhode Island Foundation, And Celebrate, OMA Hair Salon, Showcase Machine, Landmark Medical Center, Roger Williams University Law School.