From June 10-14, the Fort Worth Chamber hosted Merrick Bowie, Miguel Barrera and Samuel Kirkland, and  their teacher supervisor, Laura Mendoza, for the 28th annual Vital Link, a one-week, half-day program designed for incoming 7th grade students. Vital Link helps them understand the relationship between what they are learning in class and the tools needed for success in the workplace.

“Vital Link is such a great opportunity for both the students and the businesses,” said Dr. Anthony Edwards, the chamber’s Senior Vice President of Talent Development, Attraction and Retention, “it prepares our students for the workforce and gives businesses the opportunity to work with Fort Worth ISD and be involved in developing the future talent supply of Fort Worth. Vital Link also aligns with the Chamber’s Talent Champions initiative by providing employers a way to engage with school districts as a best practice for talent development.”

During their time at the chamber office, the students sat in on a staff meeting and took a tour of the Chamber, where they learned  how to complete a job application, and learned about social media data mining, local elections and the importance of awareness and knowledge when voting.

Additionally, the students learned some important business skills, such as how to give an elevator pitch and how to conduct an interview. They met with the Talent Development Department to learn how the Chamber attracts individuals and families to relocate to Fort Worth. Finally, they met with the Investor Relations department and learned how to tap into their creative side to brainstorm, how to look at problems from different perspectives and see multiple answers by thinking outside the box, and the importance of  collaboration in the workplace.

Several staff members gave presentations on their specific roles, as well as the tools, classes and skills they believe are vital for success in the workforce.

The students went outside of the Chamber and participated in activities downtown. They toured the Fort Worth Club, where they decorated cupcakes with the Club’s Pastry Chef Rocio Verela, and traveled to City Hall, where they heard from Beth Weibel, Senior Program Manager of the Fort Worth Sister Cities International Program, an international network of citizen diplomats that works to strengthen international relationships.

When asked about the importance of the program, teacher Laura Mendoza,  a former Vital Link student, said, “Vital Link is able to connect future leaders with the workforce at an early age, while connecting education in both the workforce and school.”

Research conducted by the Fort Worth ISD Department of Research and Development concluded that attendance rates at school are better for Vital Link participants than for non-participants. It also shows that Vital Link participants took more courses above grade level than comparison groups.

FWISD provides on-site supervision and transportation for student participants, who  are accompanied by a teacher that  supervises their work during half- day sessions. Click to find out how your business can participate in Vital Link next year.