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Summer H.E.A.T. Connects Students & Businesses

Connecting area residents to helpful opportunities and resources has long been a driving principle of our work at United Way of McLean County. Our Workforce180 program successfully guides young adults through professional and technical education and training into stable careers. Since career development begins in high school, young people need more opportunities for exploring options.


Area high school students now have a workforce development option through United Way, with our brand-new nine-week Summer H.E.A.T. internship.


Summer H.E.A.T. is inspired by and builds on work already established with BN STEM’s H.E.A.T. Academy, providing students with educational experiences during the typical school year in Health, Engineering, Agri-Business, and Technology.


Our vision was a summer program that invests in teens and connects them to H.E.A.T.–based careers and expanding it to include the Hospitality and Education sectors. Earlier this year, we began hosting conversations with community leaders to design the internship structure and initiate a small pilot group for 2024. Our goal was to place students with businesses in the H.E.A.T. sector for summer employment and to provide them with professional development sessions.


This year’s pilot has 12 students (primarily from LeRoy and Olympia and 1 from Normal) and 3 participating businesses: Little Jewels Learning Center (Education), Rob Dob’s Restaurant & Bar (Hospitality), and Westminster Village (Healthcare). Students are in cohorts of four led by a local teacher serving as internship liaisons: Sarah Palermo (Little Jewels group), Kitty Belsly (Rob Dob’s group) and Tammy Barba (Westminster Village group). Additionally, Rebecca Henderson (SMARTpath) will facilitate essential skills training and work with United Way staff to provide additional career exploration and development for the students.


Learning and reflection are built into the experience to enhance the effectiveness of the internship. Students will complete self-evaluations (beginning, mid-point, and ending), and the employers and teacher liaisons will assess and evaluate the students’ essential skills growth and workplace effectiveness. We also have some fun activities and team building exercises planned. When the summer experience wraps, we’ll host a celebration luncheon for all involved.


It’s a win for the 12 students, who are working 20 hours each week while exploring H.E.A.T. career options, building essential skills (Professionalism in the Workplace, Communicating Effectively, Understanding Customer Service), and earning a half-credit through the Bloomington Area Career Center (BACC).


It’s also a win for the three businesses that gain four summer employees each and for our community as a whole. Investing in young people and building McLean County’s workforce pipeline is essential for our community’s long-term health and vitality. Your partnership with United Way of McLean County makes new solutions like Summer H.E.A.T possible! We appreciate the way you invest in young people and McLean County’s future. Watch for updates as the summer progresses.