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Expanding Chicago's Youth: How Exelon is Working to Create the Next Generation of Leaders

Jada Smith, an aspiring accountant, is spending her high school senior year balancing a paid internship in Exelon’s tax department with rigorous coursework.

Jada Smith
Helping students get hands-on experience.

In 2018, Urban Alliance partnered up with the Obama Foundation to create the Obama Youth Jobs Corps (OYJC), an organization that works to provide underprivileged teenagers with skillsets that will set them up for success. In its first year of operation, the OYJC was able to help 12 seniors land paid internships at big name companies in downtown Chicago. One of these seniors was Jada Smith, a Kenwood Academy student who was able to get hands on experience in Exelon’s tax department to further her goal of being an accountant. 


The OYJC program starts during the sophomore year of high school, allowing students who have been accepted to start learning professional skills that will help them in their prospective internship. Students will focus on excelling at these skills while keeping up with their course work and extra-curricular activities. The OYJC will set them up with a 10-month paid internship during their senior year where they can step out of their comfort zone and into the real world. 

Exelon has helped the OYJC by offering internships for these talented high schoolers.

Jada’s internship at Exelon allowed her to experience first-hand how a Fortune 500 company looks and functions before even graduating high school, an experience not commonly accessible to teenagers.
She claims, “working in the [tax] department has really opened my eyes about what I’ll be doing in the future.” Being able to put everything Jada learned in the program to use in a real-life work environment will undoubtedly set Jada and the other students in the OYJC ahead of their peers.

Exelon is providing an opportunity that students from Chicago’s under-resourced areas could have only dreamed of. In order to build the energy workforce of the future, we need to ensure no one gets left behind which is why it’s important to partner with programs such as the OYJC. 

Jenna Ketchum, Executive Director at Urban Alliance, says “the businesses and organizations that open their doors to our interns are the critical, final puzzle piece that makes our program so impactful for the young people we serve.” Without these internships, the program doesn’t have the crucial, real-life involvement that completes the experience. Exelon is glad to offer the participation and practice to the talented youth of Chicago.

Exelon is proud to be part of such an immersive program like the OYJC along with companies like KPMG, Hyatt, The Pritzker Foundation, and Bank of America. 

Exelon is fueling young passions and allowing teenagers to do real work at a large enterprise and at such an early age. Though these high schoolers are just scratching the surface of their potential, Exelon and the OYJC are investing in our youth who will lead us in to the future. 



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