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CEO classes greatly benefit the community

Whiteside Area Career Center’s CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) class is celebrating the end of another successful year.

When you take a step back to reflect about the past 5 years, it is truly amazing how much the program has evolved. More than 120 students have participated in the CEO program, including next year’s class. They have formed incredible relationships with local businesses and leaders.

In fact, this year alone, our young people took part in more than 60 business visits and heard from 23 guest speakers. The CEO program’s strength is derived from the active engagement and devotion of our community partners.

One of the program’s main goals is introducing students to amazing career opportunities in our community. Before enrolling in the CEO class, only one in seven students believe they would look for full-time employment in the Sauk Valley. Afterward, community interest jumps to six of seven students!

Our first class is graduating from college, and we hope that some will return home and take leadership positions in our community.

One unique aspect is that the class is fully funded by our businesses and community members. We have nearly 50 investors who contribute equally to the program. Without those individuals and organizations, this program would not be possible.

This year, we were fortunate to have another excellent CEO class. The students represented eight area high schools: Dixon, Eastland, Milledgeville, Newman, Oregon, Prophetstown, Rock Falls and Sterling. Next year, we will be adding students from Erie, Forreston, Morrison and Polo.

This past year, our students ran two successful class businesses: Taste of the Sauk Valley and the Annual CEO Dodgeball Tournament. Students also created their own businesses and were given the opportunity to present them during the annual trade show at Northland Mall.

As CEO enters its sixth year, we have much for which to be thankful. Our program offers a life-changing experience for our students, and engages our community simultaneously. One of the board’s main goals is continuous growth and providing more students this exceptional opportunity.

Thank you to our facilitators, students, board members, WACC, mentors, investors, parents, and all of the friends of CEO who make this program a success.

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer.

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