HAMILTON, Ohio — The goal of Hamilton’s "Citywide Hamilton Internship Program" is to break barriers for people of color and build networks.
“I feel like this is a really good thing,” CHIPs program graduate Braedyn Jackson said. “A lot of people should look forward to coming to CHIPs for real – it helps you out a lot.”
Jackson earned a part-time position at the Booker T. Washington Community Center following an internship. He watches kids as part of the center’s after-school youth program.
“I met all kinds of great people, and they’re taking me in the right direction of where I need to be."
He was one of seven interns through the CHIPs organization. His goal: to be a firefighter.
“Something I’ve always wanted to do when I was a kid,” Jackson said. “They came in and helped my grandma. She was in trouble. I just said that’s something I want to be. My mind hasn’t looked back since.”
His goal is attainable – a CHIPs internship provides a network to the city’s movers and shakers.
“We’re connecting communities of color with businesses in Hamilton that have been super supportive,” CHIPs program co-founder Jeanne Pope said. “We want to see diversified boards and commissions. We want to see more persons of color through the city of Hamilton.”
Four organizations provided internships, and Easterseals provided the donations to make it happen.
The program’s organizers said they’re hoping to see it grow – now, they’re reaching out to Hamilton business owners to get involved.
“It’s great to see enthusiasm,” Pope said. “Great to have people wanting to move the agenda forward. But we need support. It’s important for companies to seek us out – inquire and host an intern, or donate so we can have other companies/organizations host an intern.”
She wants to grow the program to 30 interns and 30 organizations on board to start in March.
“It’s great, especially right after school,” Jackson said. “It’s awesome. Couldn’t ask for nothing better.”
He’s hoping this opportunity will help him climb the ladder to a dream job as a Hamilton firefighter.
“We’ve connected him with our amazing fire department and Chief (Mark) Mercer,” Pope said. “These are people that understand, support and are enthusiastic about diversity."
For Jackson, it was one step closer to making his dream come true.
“Chief Mercer is awesome to be around,” he said. “Took me around all the other firemen, also. It was just cool.”
People interested in applying for an internship – or Hamilton business owners who would like to help – can find information on the CHIPs program here.