Our Community's Foundation - Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and its Regional Affiliates (PACF), including the Little Kanawha Area affiliate serving Calhoun, Gilmer and Wirt counties - is now accepting student and employer applications to participate in its summer 2013 Civic Leaders Fellowship Program.

This Program began last year to improve access to local employment for interested students and to help improve their civic leadership capacity. In 2012, for seven weeks, Monday through Thursday, fourteen college-age students participated in career-related internships, then, on Fridays, gathered from across the Foundation's service region at its Center for Philanthropy for a program of personal, business and civic development. Students receive interest-related summer employment in their hometowns and the opportunity to build networks and skills to find post-graduation employment. Local employers - nonprofits, businesses and government - receive a summer intern at no cost except supervision, in exchange for willingness to provide meaningful summer work experiences for local students.

Students must have successfully completed at least their fall semester of the freshman college year to apply. Students and employers must reside / be located in the following counties: Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Mason, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood in West Virginia, and Washington County, Ohio.

Executive Director, Judy Sjostedt said that during the research and community conversations associated with the Foundation's strategic planning, "It was obvious our communities face serious educational, employment and economic development challenges.

These factors contribute to erosion of our region's civic leadership base. The absence of entry-level employment opportunities combined with students' own lack of career-related work experiences leads to significant out-migration of our educated youth. We seem to be doing a great job of preparing our graduates to work, live and serve in other places. We need to bring those graduates home.

This is an issue that our communities can - and should - try to do something about. So, in partnership with other funders and concerned citizens, we launched the Civic Leaders Fellowship to improve our next generation's ability to find local employment."

Sjostedt said, "We were encouraged by the many partners who stepped up to support the Civic Leaders Program with funds, training and opportunities. Funders matching or exceeding PACF's level of program support included the Claude Worthington Benedum and Bernard McDonough Foundations.

A seven-member team from the higher education, government, nonprofit and the business community served as Program Advisors. And, nearly 40 other community leaders participated in the Friday learning sessions." Program details and the online applications for students and host employers are now available on the Foundation's website at www.pacfwv.com, under the "Grants" menu tab. Sjostedt said donations to the program are tax deductible and are necessary to allow more students to participate this summer, noting that they hope to hire twice as many students in 2013. To help employ more local young people, please contact Judy Sjostedt at 304.428.4438 or JudyS@pacfwv.com.

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