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HomeEducationCharting Careers—A New Annapolis Nonprofit Establishes Roots

Charting Careers—A New Annapolis Nonprofit Establishes Roots

For the last three years, retired physicist Thornell Jones and upcoming 6th grader Josiah have been meeting every Thursday afternoon after school to read books together, enjoy a healthy snack, and get to know each other.

What started out as a relationship focused on building literacy skills has grown into a mentorship, and, as Josiah transitions into middle school, Jones will continue to be there to support him. 

Jones and Josiah are a part of a new Annapolis nonprofit called Charting Careers, which began as an educational and mentoring program under the Box of Rain organization and became its own nonprofit in 2018. Charting Careers’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty in Annapolis by working individually with youth and their families, while also addressing the systemic issues leading to poverty and inequities in the first place.

This mission is particularly relevant in Anne Arundel County, where, according to the most recent “Poverty Amidst Plenty” report, the income gap continues to widen between rich and poor, the number of families living in poverty continues to increase, the achievement gap for African American and Latino youth continues to exist, and mental health needs are on
the rise.

Discover Your Story
Charting Careers students start as third graders who are identified as behind in reading and follows them through early adulthood. After graduating from the elementary-level individualized literacy program, Read to Succeed, students transition into the fifth- through seventh-grade program, Discover Your Story. There, they identify their strengths, explore their own stories and interests, and continue to develop the soft skills necessary for charting a successful career.

Create Your Story
As eighth-graders, if not earlier, Charting Careers youth are officially matched with a mentor and begin the Create Your Story program.
“It is in bonds among our students, staff, and volunteers where the magic lives,” says Executive Director Erin Snell. “Our staff and volunteers grow from their relationships with the students and the students grow from the connections, care, and knowledge of the adults.”

Throughout the high school program, students receive continued individualized academic guidance, life skills workshops, and college and career counseling to help them navigate their paths towards graduation and beyond. “Through these mentoring relationships, our students learn about their strengths, set ambitious goals, and achieve them,” says Snell.

Through weekly sessions during Panther Hour at Annapolis High School, participants meet professionals from diverse backgrounds to learn about different career options. Rising high school junior D’Asia Jones says, “It was fun listening to amazing people talk about their lives and what they do for a living.”

High school participants also attend college visits and conduct service projects. According to Charting Careers student Joniece Pitts, “The field trips to colleges and team bonding with others who participated in the program, and mentors,” were her favorite parts of the program.

Living Your Story
Senior year of high school starts the final part of a student’s journey with Charting Careers. Staff and volunteers continue to collaborate with their high school graduates through 24 years of age.
To help students start living their story Charting Careers awarded more than $3,000 in scholarships during a celebration in May. The academic scholarships are made possible by the JoshuaOneNine Scholarship Fund, an agency endowment established with the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County. The scholarship funds must go directly to college and/or career access, including college application costs, tuition, course fees, materials, or other incidental fees that are barriers to education or job obtainment.

Since so many Charting Careers students are the first in their family to attend college or a credentialing program, the Charting Careers community builds cultural capital that helps young adults navigate barriers as they arise (e.g., finding summer internships, understanding the importance of office hours, managing money).

With the lack of transportation and other barriers, many youth in Annapolis would not have the opportunity to have these types of experiences without the work of nonprofits like Charting Careers, but they cannot do it alone.

If you have an interest in tutoring or mentoring, volunteering, or would like to make a donation to Charting Careers, please visit chartingcareers.org.


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