Our Programs

Gaining Respect And Determination (GRAD) 

GRAD is a summer internship program whose purpose is to propel under resourced youth into the workforce while providing them with the resources that inspire confidence and foster skills that will secure sustainable lifetime employment. GRAD offers paid summer employment, mentoring, workshops, job preparation, life skills, character formation, and leadership development.

GRAD is designed for students in high school. We also have GRAD-PLUS which is designed for college age young adults. These interns will typically have leadership responsibilities and will be required to complete Workshop week, Volunteer and engage with a Mentor along with the GRAD Interns.

Dedicated Mentor

Each summer intern is paired with a responsible vetted adult who encourages, and supports them in making responsible choices in the workplace and in the challenges of everyday life. The mentor will meet once per week with the intern  to ensure success!

Workshop Week

Workshop week is FUN! Each day there are Guest speakers, fun activities and FREE LUNCH! Some topics include: Character Formation, Life Skills, Financial Literacy, Resume and Interview  Training and Exploring Career Options.

Paid Summer Internship

  • 20 hours per week for 6 to 8 weeks in SUMMER.
  • Competitive Pay
  • Positions: events planning, nonprofit administration, medical services and more!
  • 1 hour of community service required each week

Providing Education And Readiness for Living Successfully (PEARLS) 

PEARLS is a partnership with Planning District 16 local high schools’ alternative education programs.  The PEARLS program teaches life skills building, work readiness and career/college exploration. Together they serve students who have been suspended or removed from regular high school classes.

Program Details

Program Outcomes

  • 10 weeks/Fall and Spring semesters

  • 10 hours per week planning and instruction

  • 2 days per week in-class instruction

  • Curriculum: job readiness, financial literacy, work ethics, character development

  • At least 2 field trips per semester

  • Guest speakers

  • Students develop improved life skills

  • Improved job readiness skills

  • Improve financial literacy

  • Students learn more about possible career options

  • Reduced court involvement and social aggression within the community

  • Students recognize the importance of faith, community, dignity and career

To join our PEARLS program, please email us at info@openhand-fred.org

The Beauty of Perseverance

It wasn’t your typical graduation ceremony. It took place in a cafeteria with cinderblock walls, not an auditorium with a stage. There were no gowns or caps, no music or school colors, no band, or dignitaries except for a plastic blowup snowman with a top hat and carrot nose.

Students, less than 20, rose when their names were called. They were students who were placed in the alternative education program for various reasons. As she presented the certificates, Kathy Bourne Phillips, the Life Skills instructor who got to know the students through the weeks she taught them spoke about each one’s unique qualities, contributions, struggles and successes while parents, teachers and their peers clapped and cheered. Not something that happens when caps and gowns are involved.

It wasn’t your typical graduation ceremony, but it was one of the most meaningful I’d ever attended.

-Kathleen Lewis, former Board Member