Employment Connections for Opportunity Youth (ECOY)

 Written by Michael Moreno 

When growing up all children aspire to be somebody. They have an aspiration that one day they will be working their dream job. May it be a doctor, a police officer, a scientist, or anything they ever thought was cool or interesting. As time goes on and they get older, sometimes things get in the way and then the dream changes. Obstacles go from molehills to mountains and then the dream disappears altogether. Having this fear of not reaching that dream career is now slowly becoming reality. But there is hope, and there is help to keep that dream alive.

Temple University is no stranger to its surroundings when it comes to the neighborhood. Settled in the northern part of Philadelphia, Temple has seen and grown familiar with the territory and what goes on in it. North Philadelphia has grown a reputation to have crime and violence scattered throughout the neighborhood. With a setting like that, it isn’t easy for children to avoid the trouble that life could bring, and that’s where Temple comes in. The Employment Connections for Opportunity Youth or ECOY program is here to be a helping hand in preserving the drive and motivation that keeps teenagers from going down the wrong path in life.

“ECOY is here to be a helping hand in preserving the drive and motivation that keeps young adults from going down the wrong path in life”

The program offers many different options to go about getting the students ready and into the professional world. With internship opportunities, also paid, give them an idea of what to expect in the workforce and them help set goals for how to further progress their experience into possible permanent positions. All the internship opportunities are not limited to any specific job market, so it’s very accessible in terms of what the student’s interests are, anywhere from law to retail.

As for what to expect for daily activities, the ECOY program offers academic services to help with math and reading as well as life skills and job readiness. For the life skills component, they introduce things that anyone around their age should learn about when getting ready to move out of adolescence and into being a young adult. This includes emotional intelligence, self-care, and sex education. In the job readiness portion, resume building, and mock interviews are presented to set a foundation for the student’s job-seeking skills.

The only requirement to eligible for this program is for the student to be in a form of foster care from at least the age of 14 and be between the ages 17-21. Other than that the only major requirement is drive. As long as the student is driven to make themselves into someone who is not a product of their environment but into someone who can progress through life with passion; they can accomplish the dreams that they are fighting for. Even if a student does not know exactly what they want to do, the faculty will make it possible to narrow down what their interests are and how they can turn it into a career path.

The ECOY program was founded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program with many other ECOY sections starting up around Philadelphia. Temple’s ECOY program focuses primarily on foster youth from ages 17-21 years old who are looking to pursue guidance in their journey to reach higher education. Seniors in high school or graduates with either a diploma, GED or looking for GED assistance is the target demographic for this program. ECOY makes it their duty to help these students get prepared for the biggest step in their lives, going into their career path.

The ECOY program is meant to give guidance and love. Joel Culbreath, program coordinator for the ECOY program, grew up in the same surroundings as these students. He knows exactly what they need to help drive them to stay away from the negativity of their surroundings and stay on track to a good future. With certifications and incentives to continue the push, the program will do whatever possible to make sure that the next generation is ready for what life brings them. With Temple being the location, being surrounded by what is to come only makes their future much clearer.

For more information or to get involved:
Employment Connections for Opportunity Youth
Ritter Annex, 4th floor 1301
Cecil B. Moore Ave.
Phone: (215)-204-2775
Email: ecoy@temple.edu
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