ABN/OnWord Scholarship Fund and Volunteer Training Program
In a joint project with African Bridge Network and Emmanuel Owusu, Executive Director of ABN, OnWord Partner is developing a scholarship fund to aid clients with limited resources. The scholarship fund will provide additional support to clients in conjunction with a joint volunteer training program estimated to launch in 2020.
“The partnership with ABN is still very much in its infancy,” explains Shelly. “Emmanuel proposed a partnership months ago, and we're still months away from any concrete understanding of what the collaboration will look like.”
However, given the critical need for career services, it is projected that Shelly will begin training a select number of participants from ABN as early as January next year to do much of the work that she does herself as a career counselor. Volunteers will learn how to approach a variety of tasks, ranging from helping clients with broad-scale career exploration to effectively completing job applications and perfecting interview strategies. The volunteers will be present as Shelly works with ABN/OnWord clients, providing the volunteers with the opportunity to observe real-time career advising during their training. Eventually, volunteers will be able to assist clients directly, doing much of the general career coaching while Shelly provides the more nuanced career support.
The scholarship fund will be used largely to support clients who are seeking additional services with OnWord Partner beyond the anticipated four to six hours of free career coaching offered to clients of ABN and OnWord. Clients who take advantage of this opportunity will work with Shelly along with the volunteers from ABN.
Though there has been ongoing collaboration between ABN and Onword since 2017, an official partnership was not proposed until June of 2019. Then in November, Shelly Hedstrom and Jeff Gross had a conference call with Emmanuel Owusu and Lauren Pedulla, an ABN volunteer who will be coordinating the volunteer Career Advisory Service Program. During this meeting, a structure for the project was deliberated, including procedures and guidelines for the developing program.
“Our partnership has grown very organically over the past two years,” says Shelly. “But progress is contingent upon receiving grant funding, how much the board is willing to pay for my time, and how much of my time will be volunteering vs grant-funded. This process has been very slow.”