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At the press conference held on November 1, 2022, Southern Tier 8 Executive Director, Jennifer Gregory delivered a ceremonial check in the amount of $78,290. from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).  The federal funds support the development of a pilot program that will partner regional Chambers of Commerce with schools to promote mentorship.  This third ARC funding cycle strengthens the  DCMO BOCES Career Destinations Program designed to introduce students to rewarding jobs and careers in our region.   According to Jennifer Waite, Director of Career & Technical Education programs at DCMO BOCES, this approach expands schools' access to hundreds of business partners willing to support students with career mentoring.


According to Waite, a planning committee, meeting on November 9th,  will outline the implementation of this project’s implementation plan.  The program will use Chambers of Commerce as recruiting partners to encourage businesses and retired professionals to engage in volunteerism as mentors.  DCMO BOCES will launch an awareness campaign to inform students of this resource and will promote participation.  


According to Martha Ryan, Public and School Liaison at DCMO BOCES, the grant funding provides an incentive for students to connect to the mentoring program, "Students will participate in a Mentoring Track which includes virtual career mentoring sessions, completion of an employability profile, and participation in a work based learning experience.  Students who successfully complete the Mentoring Track will receive a $250 reward,"  said Ryan.


The Mentoring Program initiative was further supported by other vested organizations.  The Foundation for South Central New York matched the ARC grant with $8,000 with a focus on providing graduates with additional resources to start their jobs such as stipends for gas cards, meals, uniforms, etc.  The Greater Norwich Foundation also matched the funding with a gift in the amount of $8,500 to strengthen the roll out of the program to prospective mentors and increase mentoring program participation as a vehicle to promote graduates retention in the region.


Present at the event were Commerce Chenango’s new President and CEO, Sal Testani, Delaware County Chamber President, Ray Pucci, and Otsego County Chamber President, Sean Lewis.  “We are building a model that can be used by other BOCES organizations.  Teaming up with our business membership leaders is an investment in future opportunities.” said Waite about the power of this new network,” said Waite.  Waite also commented on the support of other leaders by saying, “We thank our Assemblyman Joe Angelino and Shane Butler from the Chenango County Planning Department for supporting the grant application.  We are ready to give this program our best effort and commitment.”


A Mentoring Kick-Off event has been planned for January 6, 2023 at SUNY Oneonta from 11am to 1pm.  The luncheon presentation will feature a keynote presentation and orientation to begin working with students by the end of the month.  Chambers of Commerce will be releasing information to businesses and mentoring volunteers.  For more information, contact program coordinator Martha Ryan at [email protected].