Enterprise for High School Students
For more than thirty years, the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show has raised funds for Enterprise for High School Students (EHSS). The mission of EHSS is to engage and empower San Francisco Bay Area high school students to discover career opportunities and cultivate their individual interests through training, guidance, and employment experiences in a diverse and supportive learning environment. Enterprise for High School Students was founded in 1969 by Gladys Thacher, a non-profit visionary and champion of young people, who also helped found the San Francisco Education Fund, San Francisco Village, and Lifeprint, formerly Alumnae Resources/Lifeplan Center. Since then, EHSS has evolved from helping a handful of students find summer jobs into an integrated group of programs that combine job-readiness training with experiential learning. More than 20,000 San Francisco teenagers, including youth from almost every public and private high school in San Francisco, have learned the skills and values essential to workplace success at EHSS. EHSS programs provide students with the ability and opportunity to find and retain jobs, explore career opportunities through internships and job shadowing, get career and college counseling, and develop life skills crucial for their transition from high school to adult life. EHSS also operates one of San Francisco's largest job banks focused exclusively on high school students.
EHSS workshop training session
Learning in a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment, Enterprise for High School Students' members gain more than valuable skills and training. They acquire confidence. They build trusting relationships with supportive adult counselors. They serve as role models to their peers. And, they realize the world is truly open to them through education, work, and career.
EHSS workshop training session
Interview with Tony DiStefano, Executive Director of Enterprise for High School Students:
How long has Enterprise for High School Students been involved with the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show?
For 34 years; the Fall Antiques Show originated as a fundraiser for Enterprise.
Over the years, how has this association with the SFFAS impacted the efforts and goals of the EHSS?
We quite literally would not exist if it weren’t for the Show. Unlike national nonprofits, single city nonprofits seldom last for decades and decades. We’re in our 46th year! Over the years, the Fall Antiques Show has been a very important source of consistently reliable funding for EHSS. The Show currently provides about a third of our operating budget.
Would you be able to share with us some stories of students, whose lives have been positively affected by their association with EHSS?
Yes, our Facebook page Humans of EHSS details quite a few of our success stories. Here's just two of them:
When Glendy was a high school junior, speakers from Enterprise came to school to introduce Enterprise’s programs and explain how students could develop skills to find jobs, become good employees, and make plans for the future. Glendy joined because she needed to gain work experience. She also wanted to improve her communication skills and learn how to work in a professional environment. At the time, she was five months pregnant so she needed to figure out how to help her husband support their baby.
After joining This Way Ahead, Glendy had trouble adjusting to her new workload. Not only was she involved in TWA, but she was also in summer school. Lastly, her baby was growing more and more each day, which was both physically and emotionally exhausting. It was a lot to handle all at once. She often felt overwhelmed, but her EHSS counselors, Marcia and Rik, were incredibly supportive; they gave her positive encouragement and advice on how to balance so many demands at once. After the first four months of TWA training, Glendy was worried that Old Navy would not hire her for a summer internship. Marcia removed all fear and doubt, assuring her that she was a great candidate and that employers could not discriminate against her because she was pregnant.
Glendy is currently a full-time mom attending her second year at San Francisco State University, where she is majoring in criminal justice. She would like to thank the staff at Enterprise for helping her throughout her pregnancy. She is thankful for everything she learned while in TWA. Now, she knows how to speak to others professionally yet still be herself, maintaining a balance between the two that is appropriate for the work environment. After graduating from SFSU, she plans to go to law school. We are proud of Glendy and wish her good luck on her path to becoming a lawyer!
Glendy (far right) at her program graduation ceremony.
Qinglin was only four years old when she and her family left China and immigrated to the U.S. Because of the language barrier, Qinglin felt isolated from the other children, which was very detrimental to her self-confidence. Fortunately, she and her older sister were experiencing the same issues so they supported each other.
During her sophomore year at Lowell High School, Qinglin applied for Enterprise’s Pathways program because she wanted the opportunity to gain work experience. Although she did not perform strongly during her practice interview at EHSS, her self-awareness pushed her to cultivate her skills until she was finally more comfortable with the interviewing process. Once she graduated from Pathways, she became a Junior Caddie at the Olympic Club over the summer. She did not like her job at first because she was a small girl, and the position required that she carry heavy bags. However, she told herself to push through it and, in time, she grew stronger and began to enjoy the job.
The most dramatic change over the course of two years was Qinglin’s self-confidence. When she was interviewed for the Caddie position as a sophomore she was very quiet and shy. She is now a brave, confident young woman who, after being interviewed by a twenty-five member panel of past Evans Scholars, was awarded an Evans Scholarship to attend Northwestern University. She was also offered a very generous financial aid package from Princeton. According to Qinglin, the job skills and opportunity to actually put them to use—made possible by EHSS—played major roles in building her confidence. Congratulations to Qinglin on her scholarship!
What would you say to encourage someone, who is considering supporting the EHSS?
We’ve seen time and again that developing workplace skills, having a job and exploring careers during high school can put a young person on the path to a fulfilling future. The problem is there are motivated kids, particularly from low income families, who can’t get a job and who don’t even know what’s possible. In some cases (like Glendy’s) it could make the difference between earning a decent living and poverty. In other’s (like Qinlin’s) it could accelerate a young person’s success. Enterprise provides the skills and connections young people need to get a job and the work experience, career exposure and confidence to succeed in life. We are turning away too many kids that we could help if we had the funds.
For more info, please visit the EHSS website.