300 young people were registered for BrookLynk's two big Get Ready! workforce readiness training events that take place each spring. The content was created, swag bags were stuffed and lunches were ordered.
The first event went off in person without a hitch.
The second event was scheduled for “the weekend the world shut down,” as Catrice O’Neal, Brooklynk program manager, described the abrupt halt triggered by COVID-19.
What to do?
Well for Catrice and the team at BrookLynk, that meant immediately putting all the Get Ready! training materials online using Teachable, a platform that’s commonly used for online courses. “I’m not in the business of canceling opportunities for youth,” Catrice chuckled. “We just said we’re going to do something and see if it sticks, we’re not going to just sit in this space and wait.”
And stick it did.
Nearly all of the students who were registered for the reconfigured Get Ready! went through the curriculum and received a certificate of completion, which is a prerequisite for the paid summer internships coordinated by BrookLynk.
“After we did this successfully, we started thinking about how to create more accessibility,” Catrice reflected. We have a long-standing partnership with the career centers at the local high schools, and we knew that they were trying to figure out how to support students’ career development during distance learning too.”
BrookLynk shared the online Get Ready! curriculum with several high school career and guidance counselors in the area, “and our partner at Brooklyn Center Community Schools immediately said ‘We’re going to put this up on Schoology,’” reported Catrice. Schoology is the district’s cloud-based platform that teachers can use to post instructional materials and assignments, and where students can directly submit their work. “We said absolutely.”
Catrice insists that issues like data privacy, firewalls and the usual reasons to say no weren’t a big obstacle to getting BrookLynk’s materials in front of high school students via Schoology.
“It’s finding the right partners,” she noted. “A lot of teachers and guidance counselors are familiar with BrookLynk. They have seen the results of the program. They know the graduates. They know this positively impacts youth. We had a shared commitment to youth programming when there was still a lot of unknowns, and we agreed that the greatest way for the most youth to access this content was through Schoology.”
“Adulting is real,” Catrice added. We say ‘no’ more than we need to. Other partners were trying to think innovatively too, and that allowed the conversations around Schoology to happen. We all said YES.”