Leland Melvin, former NASA Astronaut, NFL player, and Lynchburg Native, presented a virtual keynote video to kick-off the 2020 Careers Expo for Youth.
Leland Melvin, former NASA Astronaut, NFL player, and Lynchburg Native, presented a virtual keynote video to kick-off the 2020 Careers Expo for Youth.

United Way of Southwest Virginia Provides Virtual Careers Expo to Regional Youth

(Abingdon, VA) October 14, 2020 – Through the Ignite Program, United Way of Southwest Virginia continues to connect the region’s youth with the skills, experiences, and support needed for good-paying jobs and lifelong careers – despite the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Careers Expo for Youth is one component of the Ignite program, which works to connect students to regional employers.

Originally a two-day event, the 2020 Careers Expo for Youth has transitioned to a week-long event available on a virtual platform to adhere to social distancing recommendations. During the week of October 5 – 9, roughly 5,500 seventh-graders across Southwest Virginia and parts of the New River Valley were invited to explore local career options.

During the event, students navigated through interactive videos, all led by 18+ industry professionals from the region. The videos focused on a total of 18 different career clusters, all recognized by the Virginia Department of Education. Each employer had the opportunity to engage students through explanation and demonstration.

CGI is committed to building the next generation of IT professionals,” stated Fabian Owens, Director of Consulting Services at CGI. CGI participated in the Virtual Careers Expo this year, teaching students about IT jobs in Southwest Virginia.  Owens stated, “We look forward to participating again next year in the Careers Expo for Youth, which has given so many students in our region an opportunity to explore new IT careers.”

By transitioning to a virtual platform, students, teachers, principals and parents are able to access the videos following the Careers Expo for Youth. Students are also able to utilize the career exploration software, MajorClarity, in depth by creating their Academic Career Plan and choosing their career pathway. Ignite Coordinators, located at every middle and high school, will be able to track the progress of their students.

“Bridging the gap between education and the workforce has not been put on hold, despite the current challenges we are facing. Students were able to participate in the 2020 Careers Expo for Youth no matter what their class schedule looked like this year; whether they are attending school on a hybrid schedule, or learning virtually at home,” stated Travis Staton, President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia.

The Virtual Careers Expo for Youth is made possible by multiple business partners in the region: GO Virginia, Food City, American Electric Power Foundation, Ballad Health Foundation, Virginia Highlands Community College, Crutchfield Corporation, LG&E and KU, Wytheville Community College, and UVA Wise and Wize Solutions.

To visit the 2020 Careers Expo for Youth website, please visit https://unitedwayswva.org/virtual-expo/



United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life.  Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change.  With a footprint that covers nearly 20% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford.