New Hamilton effort seeks to help people up to age 30 needing internships

The Rev. Shaquila Mathews and others in Hamilton plan to throw an employment lifeline to people in the city who aren’t helped by many federally funded programs with paid internships and job-mentoring for people up to age 30.

Internships tend to vanish for people after college or high school, so organizers of the CHIPs (Citywide Hamilton Internship Program) effort will be an economic salvation for some, especially minorities.

“We wanted to connect people with local businesses that we have here in the city of Hamilton,” Mathews said. "And we wanted to give particular opportunities to our Black and brown community, because sometimes they feel disenfranchised, or they feel like they don’t have the opportunity to apply, or get started with started with some of the companies that are local.

“They feel like they have to go out of the city, out of the area — West Chester, Cincinnati — to work. We wanted to create an opportunity for them to be employed right in the city where they live, that’s within walking distance, or just a few minutes away from home."

The program will start with 15 intern positions to start, with the 12-week internships paying $15 per hour for 15-20 hours per week. They will launch this month October, said Mathews, a Hamilton High School Class of 1998 graduate known as “Pastor Shaq” who in 2019 was named Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year and has started several programs to help children and families.

The interns will sharpen their skills, with resume-building, job-readiness, interviewing skills, tips and pointers, dressing for success, plus investigating trade schools or continuing on to college, “whatever success looks like to them,” she said.

Mathews, Hamilton Human Relations Director Jeanne Pope and Miami Regionals lecturer Chamina Curtis are the main drivers behind the program.

"We decided on that age range because we felt like a lot of times, internships tend to go to that 18-to-21, Mathews said. “Sometimes you have people who graduate — 25, 26 — and they still are not quite sure where they want to land or what they want to do. So maybe being able to work in the city and being able to be a productive part of the community will be great because we always want to be able to capture, and keep great talent at home.”

City residents between 16 and 30 can fill out applications on the CHIPs website, More information also is available by emailing, or calling 513-785-7186.

Mathews had a meeting with City Manager Joshua Smith, and he invited Pope to attend.

“We were talking about jobs, and some things that could be immediate things we could do to help create some opportunities,” Mathews said.

The program is similar in some ways to the fellowship program Smith created in city government that has brought promising recent college graduates to work within city government and also to live in the city.

“We want to see people gainfully employed and have meaningful jobs and meaningful work that will 1., challenge them; and 2., connect them to the city,” Mathews said. “Not only do we want them to work in the city, but we also want to challenge them to be a part, so we’re inviting them to be part of different boards and commissions here in the city so they can be involved, and be part of the decision making.”

Employers participating in the program include Telhio Credit Union, city government, the YMCA, 80 Acres. Other employers interested in joining the program can also go to the website. People can donate to the CHIPs program through the Hamilton Community Foundation.

Butler County Job and Family Services Director Bill Morrison said many internship programs the federal government allows for “end at age 24. So there is kind-of a gap there,” he said. There is some training for adult and dislocated workers, “but not really the kind of mentoring that this program’s designed to provide.”

“So I think it’s a great idea, and we’ll certainly look for opportunities to collaborate with them,” he said.

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