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LEAP program provides scholarships, jobs and mentoring to East High students

LEAP program provides scholarships, jobs and mentoring to East High students

LEAP program participants with Frank Shoffner, CUA CEOLast year, Credit Union of America created a program for East High seniors which gave them a four-year scholarship, a job at the credit union and professional development in an effort to invest in college-bound students who may need financial assistance.

The Learn, Earn and Progress (LEAP) program was designed to identify high school seniors from diverse backgrounds for employment at CUA, while providing scholarship assistance for college.

“The credit union’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion council wanted to make a difference in the community and since the credit union was started at East High School, they wanted to create a scholarship program for East High students who may not have an opportunity to go to college,” said Brianna Blackford, the diversity strategist for Credit Union of America.

The first cohort of six students began the program last May after graduating high school. As the program progressed, CUA realized that the students wanted a hands-on opportunity to learn about jobs throughout the credit union as well as professional development.

“For many of the students, this was the first professional job they’d ever had,” said Blackford. “We got some early feedback from the students and created more opportunities for professional development.”

Participants in the program receive a $3,750 scholarship each year they’re in college and work 18 hours a week as either a member support specialist or a virtual tap teller. One Friday a month, they have a full day of professional development which includes help with resume writing, interview training, team building and computer skills. The students also get time with a mentor and do community service.

After their second year in the program, they are eligible to apply for other jobs in the credit union.

“The scholarship opportunity was what really sold me on the program,” said Plamedie Mangondo, who is a first-year student at Butler Community College and is planning to become a nurse. “This was my first ‘big girl’ job. It was intimidating at first working in the same building as the CEO, but it’s matured me a lot and helped prepare me for my future career.”

Maria Allen, another participant in the program, is a student at Friends University studying finance and accounting.

“This program is giving me the opportunity to get a college degree and enrichment in the career field I’m interested in,” said Allen. “The enrichment opportunities we’ve had in the program have definitely put me ahead in some of my classes.”