The first group of Legacy I³ students just graduated from the program and will soon be starting their next phase: OPPD internships and in the fall, college.
Legacy I³, OPPD’s signature community program, began last fall. The program is for high school students from the north and south Omaha areas. Students complete a special curriculum, which includes learning essential workplace and social skills and exposure to mentors from OPPD, all with the goal of graduating from college and becoming employees of the utility.
The 22 students who completed the curriculum also received four credit hours from Metropolitan Community College, another program partner. They also received the Energy Industry Fundamentals certification, a national-recognized credential throught the Center for eEnergy Workfource Development.
The program is the brainchild of former nuclear plant operator and Navy veteran Deon Clark.
Clark said the program is based on developing critical thinking skills.
“For us, that is the ability for young people to bring information in, process that information, consider the long-term consequences and alternatives, determine if there are any outside forces impacting their ability to make their decision and deciding if you are prepared to deal with the consequences,” he said.
Clark was in Omaha for the May 19 graduation ceremony. One graduate’s essay was read detailing what the program meant to her and how it changed her life.
“It was very emotional,” said Jaron Cannon, the Legacy facilitator who works with the students. “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”
The program started in Phoenix to attract, train and retain local, diverse talent, and is now in three states. Other Omaha businesses are looking at also getting involved.
“We believe this is going to spill over into the broader community,” Clark said. “There are so many organizations who need this talent, who are looking for ways to engage young folks, but might not have a direct way to do it. This gives them a blueprint about how they can be involved.”