Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, May 16, 2022 @ 1:09 p.m. / Community, Education

E3 Program Matches Employers With Youth

Courtesy of the Smart Workforce Center

Del Norte education officials and workforce center representatives hope to match local employers with youth looking for a taste of what it’s like to gain and hold down a job.

After being forced to take a year off due to COVID-19, the E3 Summer Youth Program will feature new work sites, including the Crescent City Harbor, Alexandre Family Farm, Resighini Rancheria and Howonquet Village & Resort.

Christy Hernandez, program supervisor at the Smart Workforce Center in Crescent City, said the program started its first summer in 2017 with only 16 placements and is already up to between 35 and 40 potential placements this summer.

Appearing before the Board of Supervisors with Sunset High School principal Tony Fabricius last week, Hernandez said their goal each year is to grow the number of placements for the youth that participate.

“One of the main takeaways that we found is that the employers we have on board, they really act as that mentor, that positive adult role model, in their life to kind of help give them little nuggets of knowledge of what it means to be an employee,” Hernandez told supervisors. “Since we’re looking at a population of current sophomores, juniors and seniors, a lot of our young people have never held a job before, so this is dipping their toe into the world of work.”

Standing for experience, education and employment, the E3 Summer Youth Program began as a “four-legged partnership” between Del Norte County Unified School District, the Workforce Center, Building Healthy Communities and local employers, including government agencies like Crescent City and Del Norte County.

According to Fabricius, he and Hernandez invented E3 after Del Norte County Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Harris received feedback at an economic summit that local students were unable to count change and lacked other “soft skills” necessary for them to be employable.

“These kids don’t necessarily have the modeling or the examples or the coaching, so to speak, at home or in their neighborhoods for employment,” Fabricius said, adding that many students often don’t have a parent willing to introduce them to local business owners or help them fill out a job application. “All these things we coach our kids (on) isn’t necessarily shared amongst our students and young people in Del Norte County. We’re becoming a surrogate for this. All our kids in Del Norte County need is an opportunity and we’ve seen that in the development of the E3 Program.”

The E3 Summer Youth Program kicks off with a week-long bootcamp when school lets out for the summer. Youth meet with a panel of business owners and other employers and professionals and get a chance to ask questions.

At the end of the bootcamp, young adults meet with about 30 employers and spend about 5-7 minutes each interviewing with that person, Fabricius said.

“By the end of the day and by the end of the week, they have picked their top three choices and our employers have picked their top three choices and we try and meet them up,” he said. “Like speed dating, but to find an opportunity for a kid as a placement in their business or whether it’s county of Del Norte or City of Crescent City. And it can be up to a four or six-week placement. This is a love connection, but there’s an expiration date.”

Students can earn up to 10 elective credits by participating in the E3 program, Fabricius said.

The E3 program tries to offer a “good range” of different worksites for youth to choose from, this includes working in an office to being a laborer or trying their hand at the hospitality industry, Hernandez said. The E3 program also hopes to recruit representatives of various local trades, she said, though because of some of the equipment the participant often has to be 18 or older.

According to Fabricius, local businesses can pitch in by hiring one or more of E3’s youth participants. This includes a tax deductible monetary contribution of $1,200 per youth for 80 hours or four weeks of work or $1,800 per youth for 120 hours, or six weeks.

The monetary contribution is the wage the youth participant would receive.

While the business owner would hire the youth worker, the Smart Workforce Center would be the employer of record, overseeing the payroll costs, workman’s compensation and any other liability issues an employer may take on by having a student work for them, according to Fabricius.

Other ways local business owners and employers can help include facilitating a workshop during E3’s bootcamp week and allowing E3 youth to tour their businesses.

“You’re not looking for your forever employee here, necessarily,” Fabricius said. “You are looking to help coach, mentor, and then you know what, we send them on their way.”

Though they didn’t discuss the county participating in the E3 program on Tuesday, District 2 Supervisor Valerie Starkey asked staff to return to the Board of Supervisors at the next meeting with a proposal to participate in the E3 program.

“I’m highly supportive of this,” she told Fabricius and Hernandez. “I don’t know how it would work on the county end. I’m hoping either a placement or allowing them to tour our county departments. I’m encouraged and would like to support it.”

For young adults, E3 applications are at all Del Norte County schools that serve high school students. For more information, call Fabricius at (707) 464-0380 or Hernandez at (707) 460-4225.


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