A Partnership to Develop Tomorrow’s Water Workforce by Expanding Opportunities for Local Youth in Alexandria
On February 11, 2021 AlexRenew and partner Urban Alliance were recognized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for their partnership on an internship program that that helps Alexandria’s high school students gain hands-on experiences in water careers. The partnership received the Workforce Development Award as part of NACWA’s National Environmental Achievement Awards program.
The Urban Alliance-AlexRenew partnership began in 2013 with the creation of internship opportunities as part of Urban Alliance’s existing national program that connects local businesses and government entities with high school seniors for paid professional internships, workplace readiness training, and mentorship. Over the course of eight years, AlexRenew has hosted 11 students from Alexandria’s TC Williams High School.
Guided by mentors from AlexRenew’s staff, Urban Alliance interns undertake projects and support AlexRenew’s departments over a six-month period. Rotations include time spent with AlexRenew’s administration, information technology, human resources, workplace safety, communications, finance, engineering, operations, laboratory, and maintenance department. Urban Alliance and AlexRenew also work together to host professional development for each student, offering writing workshops, and assistance with college and career planning.
“AlexRenew shares our belief in the power of meaningful early work experience to build a more equitable pipeline of homegrown talent, improve academic and employment outcomes for students, and build a stronger community for all. We’re proud to continue a partnership that has, over the past eight years, exposed our students to living-wage careers within the environmental services industry and provided a rich and rewarding internship experience through meaningful work and caring mentorship.”
- Monique Rizer, executive director of Urban Alliance in the Greater DC Region
NACWA’s 2021 National Environmental Achievement Awards recognizes public clean water utilities that have made outstanding contributions to environmental protection, their communities, ratepayers, and the water sector. The Urban Alliance internship at AlexRenew is one of 16 programs that were honored this year.
NACWA CEO, Adam Krantz congratulated all 2021 awardees. “Collectively, the awardees represent the forward-thinking, ambition, and civic-minded environmental stewardship that is the hallmark of today’s public water sector utilities," Krantz said. "Congratulations, and I look forward to celebrating with you in person next year.”
One of our recent Urban Alliance interns, Isaac Albores, showcased his knowledge on how AlexRenew’s pump stations help move wastewater to our treatment facility through an engaging at-home activity he created. (See below.) The activity was shared as part of our 2020 Water Discovery Day, an annual open house that AlexRenew co-hosts with its One Water partners, the City of Alexandria, and Virginia American Water.
Together, AlexRenew and Urban Alliance are trying to cultivate a learning experience that exposes interns to the challenges of problem-solving, the importance of water sector careers, and the essential public health service that water workers provide to the communities they serve. We hope, along the way, that students build a lifelong connection to Alexandria’s waterways and the vital importance of transforming water within our community.