Connecticut nonprofit helping students find their career path

JoeAbate Charitable Foundation partners with school districts and local businesses for micro internship opportunities

NORTH BRANFORD, Conn. — A new program is helping Connecticut high school students jumpstart their careers. Is called ignite talent, founded by a non-profit organization, JoeAbate Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Igniting Talent works with West Haven High School and North Branford High School and allows youth and seniors to go through three “micro internships” at a dozen local businesses. They jump from practice to practice, with two weeks at each place, to test the waters.

“Just understand that sometimes you can even be an A student with no idea what you want to do,” said Meghan Abate, founder and president of the JoeAbate Charitable Foundation, Inc. “And how are you going to get that. exposure, if not through different micro practices.”

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The foundation was created in honor of Meghan’s late husband Joe. He died in December 2020 from a congenital heart defect known as a ventricular septal defect (VSD).

Before her death, Meghan and Joe spent lazy Sundays talking about their careers, and Joe struggled to choose just one path.

“Joe and I often talk about how it’s really hard at 17 or 18 to figure out what you want to be. And I joked, I’d call her Career Barbie because she’d try a bunch of different careers, which is nothing wrong with that.” Abbot said.

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Igniting Talent is designed to help young students get out while still in high school so they can get a sense of what their true passion is.

A West Haven student was able to try and succeed.

“It’s really a great opportunity that you wouldn’t normally get on your normal day,” West Haven High School graduate Dante Rodney said.

Rodney had the opportunity to work in an accounting firm, a veterinary clinic and Guilford Texaco North, an auto repair shop. He did so well in those practices that the owner decided to hire him for the summer.

“He was doing his own work, I was scheduling his own work, and eventually I offered him a job, and he took it, so here he is and he’s doing great,” said Jim Betulia, owner of Guilford. Texaco North

In addition to the internship and job, Rodney also received a $1,000 scholarship, which he plans to put toward his studies at Wagner College this fall. There, Rodney will be in the pre-vet program, inspired by what he learned in his internship at Igniting Talent.

Seeing Rodney succeed gives Abate nothing but pride. She said she knows her husband would be proud of how far the program and the foundation have come.

“I think he would love it. I think he would go up to them and talk to them and be proud, very proud. And I think he would have that experience to look back and say, ‘You’re 18, you can do it, the world is ahead of you yours and here’s your chance to go get it,” Abate said.

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The foundation also has another cause, the Family Resources Fund, where they donate to financially needy families with a child in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at the Yale New Haven Children’s Heart Center.

Abate said he hopes to continue both programs for years to come.

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at Follow her Facebook, Twitter i Instagram.

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