Arconic Foundation funds new afterschool program with Pellissippi State

Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.
Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.

Arconic Foundation has awarded Pellissippi State Community College $50,000 to start a new afterschool program for children in Blount County. 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program, which will be implemented at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville, will focus on career awareness, exploration and preparation for high-wage, high-demand advanced manufacturing and coding careers. The program will offer concentrations in robotics, additive manufacturing, coding, hydraulics and pneumatics. 

“The earlier a student is introduced to these jobs, the sooner they will see an optimistic future open to career-connected learning,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “Exposing students to these career opportunities in middle school will allow them to better use their time in high school to prepare for the path they’ll take after graduation.  

Having an exciting experience with the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program could not only spark their interest in these careers, but also could help students understand the importance of taking advanced math, science and English courses in high school,” she added. 

The program, which will begin January 2021, will be led by a Pellissippi State employee, although the College is recruiting volunteers from industry and the community to help.  Activities will be interactive and age appropriate, introducing participants to the basic terminology and concepts that are critical to each concentration. Students will learn how to use the basic types of equipment common to each field and will build new skills through hands-on instruction. Guest speakers will help students make the connection between what they are learning and a real job.  

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program also will focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – four areas regularly identified by area business and industry leaders as skills that their employees need. Activities will address the barriers students may face when considering one of these career pathways and will highlight the resources available throughout the community to help them. Inspiring self-esteem in students is another program goal. 

“Blount County employers are emphasizing a desire to hire a more diverse workforce, but many underrepresented populations may not be aware of the opportunities for a career in advanced manufacturing or the educational pathway needed to be successful in manufacturing,” Brahams said. “This program will address both of these challenges.” 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program is open to students attending afterschool programs held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville. However, those who would like to volunteer to help with the program should contact Teri Brahams at tbrahams@pstcc.edu. 

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