YouthEntity embarks on unique career exploration opportunity |

YouthEntity embarks on unique career exploration opportunity

Photo taken by Tara Martellaro.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question asked of many youth that is often met with a blank stare or a stock answer. YouthEntity of Carbondale is hoping to change that. In its goal of providing real-world learning experiences to youth in the area (and rapidly expanding to others), YouthEntity has kicked off its newest program named “My Career. My Life.” The pilot program is being offered at Basalt Middle School this month, serving all 140 sixth-graders during their Wednesday after-school enrichment period.

Sixth-graders already completed a career inventory that provided them with insights into careers that match their currently stated strengths and interests. From these results, students will be grouped together and paired with local professionals who match their area of interest. Students will work with the adult mentor for eight weeks and complete an authentic career-representative project in that field.

For instance, if a student expressed interest in a creative arts field, they might be matched with an interior designer who leads the group through a classroom “makeover” project that must handle both budget and design elements.

These classes are free and will run at BMS on Wednesdays from 1:55-3:15 p.m. from Jan. 7 to Feb. 25.

“Basalt Middle School is thrilled to announce a new collaborative effort with local nonprofit YouthEntity that will allow sixth-grade students the chance to explore real world jobs during the third quarter’s Early Release Wednesdays time in January and February,” wrote Principal Jeremy Voss in a letter sent home to parents. “We are very excited about this partnership and the opportunities it will provide our students to begin thinking about future career options.”

Future goals of this program is to offer it to third-, fifth- and eighth-graders. “Imagine a youth having three different career plans and participating in more than 20 internships during their K-12 education,” said Kirsten Petre McDaniel, executive director. “My Career. My Life.” will provide students with an engaging and fun way to develop and maintain their career plans. Most importantly, the program will facilitate the connection between school and career through program providers and professionals in the community to move beyond a plan to experiential learning and real-world development.”

Naomi Peters, an alumnus of YouthEntity’s ProStart program, said YouthEntity’s programs provided the spark that ignited her drive to pursue a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry. “I was lucky enough to partake in the state competition hosted annually by Johnson & Wales University,” she said. Our business management team came out in first place receiving $50,000 each in scholarships. Without YouthEntity, I would have never been given the opportunity to experience real-world learning. It encouraged me to pursue a career in this industry and taught me how I can be truly successful in it.”

YouthEntity had served more than 2,000 students in its financial literacy workshops offered for fifth-graders and eighth-graders in districts Re-1 and Re-2 and has expanded to Summit County and also held a pilot program in Grand Junction. Other programs include business consulting, architecture and design, stock investing, culinary arts and business entrepreneurship.

All of these programs are offered at little or no fee with minimal staff and a majority of volunteers.

Funding for programs is provided through grants and private donations. To support this newest endeavor or help with the other programs offered to youth, please visit

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