Program Helping Sixth and Ninth Graders Explore Living Wage Careers Opens at Burnham School

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

Haverhill Public-Private Partnership, known as HP3 for short, has opened a mentorship training classroom and office at Thomas E. Burnham School to further its mission of helping Haverhill public school students obtain a living wage job.

The nonprofit, founded in 2019 by retired Army Lt. General Jack Gardner, also recently conducted online outreach to identify sixth graders who might benefit from the program. The fledgling organization begins a pilot mentoring program in September for students at Dr. Albert B. Consentino School and mentors from Holy Family Hospital, with the intent of scaling up to a larger program by mid-2022.

“I have met with and talked to Lt. General Gardner many times and have always been very impressed with his energy and dedication to his goal of helping the youth of Haverhill,” Mayor James J. Fiorentini said. “He works closely with my office and the school department and is well respected by everyone who knows him. I look forward to seeing his project here in Haverhill grow and prosper and I plan to support him in any way I can.”

Gardner has been developing HP3 for the purpose of helping every Haverhill public school student achieve a job where they can have a good place to live, have transportation and raise a family. The partnership’s core tasks include engaging students at the sixth and ninth grade levels on career exploration, providing mentors, augmenting transportation and conducting an annual assessment of other tasks required to achieve the goal of every student achieving a living wage job.

Gardner lives in Alexandria, Va., but has been traveling to Haverhill regularly since 2018. He selected Haverhill for the project because of its demographics and how well the city represents population trends throughout the United States.

Gardner, who served in Iraq, Bosnia, Europe, Asia and Latin America, developed his concept over several years based on his experience living and working outside the U.S. as a military officer. He said he believes every American should realistically be able to achieve a living wage career and is convinced that a community effort focused on that goal can succeed.

Participants at a recent opening ceremony included school Superintendent Margaret Marotta, Haverhill Police Chief Robert P. Pistone, state Rep. Andy X. Vargas, Crystal Engineering President and CEO Mike Trotta and Erica Mawby-Roche, vice president of Day and Employment Services at Fidelity House CRC. The event was hosted by the HP3Director Nadia Foster and Gardner.

There’s more information at thehp3.com or by emailing Foster at [email protected].

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