Thirty-five businesses to offer IGNITE internships


Above: Travis Staton United Way of Southwest Virginia CEO

Addressing the gap between the worlds of education and employment in Southwest Virginia, the United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating a talent pipeline that prepares the region’s emerging workforce for the jobs of tomorrow through the Ignite Program.

Ignite connects area schools and students with local employers by deploying two simple strategies: career awareness about the vast job opportunities among our regions’ employers and skill development through hands on learning.

Thanks to the thirty-five businesses that are partnering with United Way of Southwest Virginia, more than 90 high school students will have the opportunity to experience the best training ever: work.

Internships build on the soft skills training students receive during the academic year. Students are taught the importance of communication and teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving, as well as the importance of attitude and professionalism.

Mary Trigiani, senior vice president, strategic planning and development, said “New Peoples Bank is excited to welcome Ignite interns this summer. My first job outside our family business was wrapping gifts at Mike’s Department Store in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, during the holidays. Growing up in a coalfields community, a teenager had many mentors. They taught us how to come to work on time, answer phones and make customers feel appreciated. We are looking forward to tapping these roots with our New Peoples Bank interns this summer.”

Travis Staton, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia, said, “I am grateful to our region’s employers who have chosen to be a part of the solution. This is a great opportunity for these employers to share their insights and experiences with high school students as they prepare for future careers.”
Funding for the internships comes partially through a grant United Way of Southwest Virginia received from GO Virginia Region 1. A recent grant from GO Virginia Region 2 will allow Ignite to expand into Pulaski and Giles County and the city of Radford.

Thirty-five employers in Southwest Virginia have truly partnered with United Way to build the workforce of tomorrow by offering more than 90 internship opportunities to students. The employers participating in the 2019 Summer Internships are providing month-long, paid job opportunities for students 16+ years of age who are enrolled in high school. United Way of Southwest Virginia is providing pre-employment training to the students and mentoring training to the employer mentors who will be working with the students. Each business that participates is receiving technical assistance via United Way’s internship technology, MajorClarity. Ignite Coordinators at our region’s high schools are recruiting high school students to apply for internships.
For more information about the 2019 Summer Internships available through Ignite, visit

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