Very Happy Holidays from the CustomED team!

Christmas_CardWishing you all peace and happiness for the rest of the year and beyond! #Holidays2014


How Many Mornings Do You Have to Make a Difference?

In the final REACH Job Training session for the year, students found out they only have an average of 30,000 mornings to wake up and live their dreams. So what are they planning to do with this time?

Well, the students had all day to reflect and exhibit their plans throughout the day.

photo 3 (1)Letting Creativity Shine Through

The “Finding Your Voice session gave students a chance to discuss different types of writing pieces – emails, texts, formal/informal documents, fiction, and cover letters. The group was split up into teams. The first team to grab the marker on the table had the chance to identify what type of writing sample the presenter read.

At the writing session, students were taught the difference between a business card and a mission statement. After seeing a few examples, they wrote ones for themselves. It gave them a chance to really think about the skills required for the career choices and the difference they wanted to make in the world doing it.

The students created vision boards in the “Passion and Purpose” session. The boards gave them the opportunity to map out what drove them to their career choices. They learned that you job position might frequently change in life, but your purpose and passions remained the same.

Gratitude goes a long way. It’s easy to look at any situation as good or bad. But if you want to be successful, you’ve got to look at everything as a learning opportunity. Students reflected on their own lives and wrote down how all of their experiences, even the ones they once labeled as being negative, were opportunities to be grateful for.

STEM put together a scavenger hunt. Different skills and careers were spread out throughout the room. Participants had to find the skills and match them up with the careers.

photo 5Put Your Plan to Work                                                     

In “Mapping Your Path Forward,” it was time to take a look at the journey instead of the destination. While most people think they’ll get a job and work it happily ever after. That’s not so prevalent these days. So, students were able to hear how Rusty McCarty, CEO of CustomED, made many career changes throughout his path. However, his mission still remained the same.

The students had their chance to present their community service projects in front of their peers and volunteer business professionals from the local area. After their three minute, timed, presentations, the volunteers asked the students more detailed information about their community service experience. They also evaluated the students on their presentations and provided suggestions to take their service projects to the next level.

For more information about the REACH program or other educational curriculum by CustomED, please contact (856) 833-9377.


April REACH Job Training

The Power of One

How many people does it take to make a difference? Is the whole group really more powerful than one person? Can one single vote really affect the outcome of an election?  This month’s Reach Job Training sought to help students reflect on some of those questions and help them understand the impact they can have on the world. The day revolved around a specific theme: the power of one.

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After the ducks flew in for another awesome activity to start the day off, groups broke off into three revolving sessions that each covered the day’s theme. ‘The Arithmetic of Making a Difference’ asked students to pander that, when it comes to people, does one plus one really equal two? ‘Path of Service’ gave participants time to reflect on their strengths, passions, and interests to aid them in finding the right avenue for them to make a difference. While ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ took its cues from the eponymous Christmas movie and tasked students with reflecting on what the world would be without them in it.

What’s Your “E Plurabus Unum”?

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The session on mottos illustrated the importance of having a personal motto to live by.In May, students’ nonprofit organizations will be hosting events to promote their organizations to possible donors. Whichever organization garners the most donations will win a cash prize! Groups were given time to plan their events with some help from volunteers. They have some big things planned for their events!

After students created their own mottos, they were given time brainstorm and come up with their nonprofit organizations’ mottos. After, representatives from TD Bank were kind enough to run a session on Checking, Savings, and Debt Management. Presenters offered invaluable insights into the ins and outs of personal finances and “making your money work for you.”

Get Creative

No REACH class would be complete without sessions on STEM and writing! In the afternoon, teams got to bring science to life during the ‘Genius of Science’ session. Each group was given a science topic and was tasked with presenting it to the group in a creative way. Teams sang songs, rapped, and ran skits! The writing session started off with a minute for students to dump everything out of their brain onto paper so they could clear their heads of all the junk!  They were then given time to fine-tune their cover 1 (44)

Later in the afternoon, teams rotated again for three awesome sessions. Students got the chance to receive feedback from last month’s mock interviews while others attended sessions on remaining memorable in the workplace and the importance of being a good citizen. After some time for reflection, students hopefully left with a newfound respect for their individuality and what they can accomplish. REACH Job Training #5 will be held on May 17.


Visual Communications Coordinator

Join Our Team: New Position Now Open…
CustomED is hiring a full-time Visual Communications Coordinator to design and create visual communication elements for program materials, marketing, web, and other project needs.  At least 25% of this position will also involve management and coordination a variety of projects for our clients, partners, and their initiatives/programs/events.  For additional information and application instructions, CLICK HERE.


March REACH Job Training

The Power of First Impressions

Reach Job Training #3 was all about impressions. First impressions set the stage for how people are judged both personally and professionally, which is important for REACH participants as they prepare to step into real-world positions. Once a first impression is made it cannot be taken back, so it needs to be a positive one. REACH participants had the chance to leave positive impressions on DC professionals who were kind enough to volunteer their time to conduct live practice interviews later in the day.

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In keeping with the theme, the day started off with a session on interview preparations and first impressions. And guess who made their third Reach Job Training appearance? The ducks! Participants were tasked with assigning the ducks positions in a company based solely on their appearance.  It was interesting to see the impact first impressions had on the ducks’ career paths!  After teams discussed and developed their nonprofit organization’s mission statement, vision, structure, event, and funding plan, they split up into three sessions on writing (format and layout), the top ten workplace issues they might face, and a step-by-step guide to their service projects. While participants were in session, volunteers from a variety of organizations and backgrounds started arriving for a brief orientation before the practice interviews began.

Live Practice Interviews

It’s time to step into the hot seat! With resumes in hand, participants were able to choose from disciplines such as political science, health, IT, business and engineering for their interviews. This was a great opportunity for participants to get real-life practice before they start applying for positions and internships in their respective fields. Volunteers provided feedback on their interviews, which we will discuss next month.


After lunch, participants broke into two groups for sessions with very different, yet equally important subjects: writing cover letters and using math in everyday life. During the writing session, participants learned that cover letters are effective tools that expand upon their resumes and help differentiate them from other applicants. They developed their cover letters and will receive feedback next month. The session on math in everyday life illustrated the impact math has on all career fields. Participants were tasked with translating written data into an easily readable graph.

For the second session in a row, participants were privileged to have another illuminating guest speaker. Ralph McCloud, a former Councilman and Mayor Pro Tempore of Fort Worth, Texas, offered some enlightening advice and thought-provoking stories. He stressed the importance of remaining loyal to your community and finding what really interests you.

Crisis Averted

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Since participants will form nonprofit organizations and plan an event with real donors, it’s imperative they be prepared for a possible crisis! The session on public relations and crisis management offered participants an introduction to PR, and stressed the importance of relationship building and gaining positive reputations. But this wasn’t simply a lecture; teams were given crisis scenarios and were tasked with running a press conference for their nonprofits. Teams had to figure out their organization’s stance, choose a spokesperson (or two), and handle questions from the “media.” They faced some real zingers, but everyone succeeded in preventing any full-blown crises!

It was a busy, productive day that ended with some time for participants to reflect on everything they learned. The next session will be held on Saturday, April 5th and will focus on the power of “one.”


February REACH Job Training


This month’s REACH Job Training session kicked off with a lesson on public speaking – participants learned how to properly address their audience. And the rubber ducks made a return appearance! Teams were once again tasked with saving the rubber ducks by elevating them on their tables using only the materials provided. Sadly, some ducks were sacrificed, but it was a great way to get everyone’s brains into gear.


Next, participants were broken into groups to learn about service projects, the dos and don’ts of LinkedIn profiles, and the importance of using key points in writing. During the writing session, participants pulled out key points in an article, and create their own BuzzFeed-style lists. During the LinkedIn session, students were given actual examples of LinkedIn profiles from staff and alumni, and went over their strengths and weaknesses (Hint: no selfies).

There’s No “I” in “Team”

During the working lunch, participants vied to be hired to one of six teams. Each team is tasked with creating a nonprofit organization over the course of six months and securing donors, so hiring the right team members was important and tensions were high! Participants were hired, traded, and fired before the hour was done. Luckily, everyone was hired and the teams are well on their way to creating imaginative, successful nonprofit organizations.

After lunch, everyone’s teamwork skills were put to the test during sessions on STEM and prioritization. The session on STEM careers had students building bridges from blocks and straws to demonstrate the STEM skills needed to complete such a project. Likewise, the session on prioritization forced students to step out of their comfort zones and into the streets of Gotham City to help Batman prioritize and schedule his day with a life-or-death crisis or two thrown in. A lot was on the line, but everyone came through in the end!


A Career That Fascinates You

Great guest speakers have a way of grabbing our attention and having a lasting effect on the way we think. We were extremely lucky to have Dr. Branche, Principal Associate Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Director of the Office of Construction Safety and Health. Highly charismatic and knowledgeable, Dr. Branche spoke about the impact science has had on her life both personally and professionally. She stressed the importance of working diligently for success and choosing a career that fascinates you.

The day ended with alumni-run presentations on internship basics and transitioning into the workforce as well as time for teams to brainstorm and reflect on the rewarding day they had. We will reconvene on March 8th for REACH Job Training round three!