HP3 Program to Match Students with Living Wage Careers Formally Launches This Fall in Haverhill

Retired U.S. Army Lt. General John D. “Jack” Gardner speaks before Haverhill City Council in 2019. (WHAV News file photograph.)

A long-envisioned plan to help match Haverhill students with living wage careers formally launches this fall with the hiring of a program director.

The Haverhill Public-Private Partnership—known as HP3 for short—is the work of retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Jack Gardner. According to a statement released Tuesday, HP3 has been awarded multi-year backing from Crystal Engineering of Newburyport and its CEO Mike Trotta and $15,000 in city money. It will share offices with the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.

Gardner said, “This is an ambitious project with very high goals. We are building a program designed to reach every student and ensure that those who complete high school achieve a true living wage job. Every single one. This is our core focus and we hope to eventually establish a model for other cities around the country. But we are thrilled to be launching it first in Haverhill, Massachusetts.”

Gardner, who served in Iraq, Bosnia, Europe, Asia and Latin America, developed the job matching concept over several years based on his experience living and working outside the U.S. as a military officer. He lives in Alexandria, Va., but has been traveling to Haverhill monthly since 2018. He selected Haverhill because of its demographics and how well the city represents growing population trends throughout the United States.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini said Gardner previously introduced his program at several Haverhill schools and to hundreds of our students and school families. The mayor said he looks forward to “more and greater successes of HP3 now that they are about to hire a full-time director.”

The director will be selected from the area to manage the various program components, including informing students and parents on career fields, how to identify student interests and development of career plans; providing mentors to students and recent graduates where appropriate; and providing transportation assistance.

Greater Haverhill Chamber President Dougan Sherwood said he recognizes the ambitious “moonshot” nature of the effort, but believes “Haverhill can achieve great things and, in the process, develop a model for other cities.”

“Covid-19 is teaching us something important about our local workforce.  Unemployment has torn through our lowest income workers. We can build resiliency in our community through this program by helping students out of high school develop the skills needed to build a financially secure life for themselves. This will strengthen our local workforce which is vital for strengthening our manufacturing base,” he said.

More information on the program and a short video summary may be found at thehp3.com.

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