Young Leaders provide workforce insights at LEAP course

By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

United Way of Greater Cleveland Young Leaders (YL) is expanding volunteer opportunities, with cabinet members sharing their insight at LEAP, July 5 and 11.

Linking Employment, Abilities, Potential (LEAP) is a social service and advocacy organization that connects disabled individuals with jobs, training and benefit programs. As a federally recognized center for independent living, LEAP provides resources allowing those with physical and mental handicaps to live independently. The service has four concentrations: independence, employment, youth transition and community.

“It’s possible, regardless of your disability, to live in the community, and work in above minimum-wage jobs,” said Melanie Hogan, executive director of LEAP.
The YL presentations are part of a required workforce readiness course for 15-to-19-year-olds. Participants must take this course before they can start their 20 hour-per-week summer job placements.

“The purpose is to have guest speakers from [various professions] help students realize skills needed on the job,” said Megan Shadrach, United Way’s associate of affinity and engagement.

Shadrach and YL cabinet members Allison Taller Reich, a construction law attorney at Frantz Ward LLP, and Yasmeen Muhammad, a portfolio management associate and co-chair for KeyBank’s YL chapter, shared their insight on social media and networking July 5.

Topics included appropriate profile pictures, an introduction to LinkedIn and how to network. Of the 12 students in attendance, many were seniors or recent graduates from local high schools. LEAP’s summer program will place approximately 80 youth workers in more than 15 job sites, Hogan said.

Reich and Muhammad chose networking as their topic because it was something they were comfortable talking about, Muhammad said. “[Networking] is something that me and Allison both do a lot of, so I felt like that might be a good opportunity to let [the students] know some things that I would have wanted to know when I was their age.”

Reich organized the presentation that accompanied the talk, including its focus on social media.

“I wanted to give positive and negative examples and how to do social media the right way for networking,” Reich said. “Networking is a totally different animal and you have to learn it by doing. With social media, I think there are pretty clear guidelines about what’s appropriate and what’s not. It’s more about awareness and what they’re putting out there in the universe that could negatively affect their status later for employment, school or scholarships and awards.”

While this is LEAP’s first time working with members of the YL program, it has an ongoing collaboration with United Way which funds programs within LEAP’s employment and youth transition concentrations.

The Young Leaders returned to LEAP Monday, July 11 with a presentation and activity on teamwork.

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