The Wellmark Foundation awarded Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates (iJAG) $25,000 to assist with their fall leadership development conference and spring career development conference. More than 300 middle and high school students from 42 Iowa cities were provided an opportunity to learn more about a potential career in the health care industry and hone their leadership skills.
"Working to improve social determinants of health — conditions in the places people are born and where they live, learn, work and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes — is a priority for The Wellmark Foundation," said Mary Lawyer, The Wellmark Foundation executive director. "We are proud to support iJAG by investing in programming that increases graduation rates for young people of great promise and exposes them to high-demand health care occupations."
Students from across Iowa recently attended the iJAG fall leadership development conference on Nov. 9 in Des Moines and Nov. 10 in Cedar Rapids. During the conference, students heard a keynote presentation from Dr. Tim Gutshall, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield's senior medical director.
"Becoming a doctor wasn’t on my radar until I was fortunate enough to hear from a nurse during a class in eighth grade," said Dr. Gutshall. "Through this leadership conference, I was able to share my unique story and inspire these students to explore a career in health care, work hard and follow their dreams. This experience will set these students apart from others as they determine how they can impact the communities in which they live as part of their future careers."
In addition to attending conferences, iJAG students collaborate on projects, hold leadership roles within the program, complete class assignments and participate in several community engagement activities focusing on career development, job attainment, job retention, basic and personal skills, and leadership and self-development.
"iJAG gives a voice to the voiceless and helps them see that they can be all that they want to be even if they’re told that they can’t," said Laurie Phelan, iJAG president & CEO. "The Wellmark Foundation sponsorship makes all the difference to these young people and helps transform their lives. It also shows them organizations want to help them be successful now, and later when they're deciding on a career."
Jobs for America's Graduates is led by a public/private partnership at the national level, comprised of leading governors, c-suite executives among the Fortune 500 and national community leaders. It is organized to support state affiliates in the high-impact delivery of the JAG Model across middle school, high school, out-of-school and collegiate young adult populations. To learn more about iJAG visit https://www.ijag.org/ External Link.
Since its inception in 1991, The Wellmark Foundation has provided more than $54 million in funding to communities across Iowa and South Dakota. Learn more about the Wellmark Foundation.