ZCoBbers, ZingLife

We’re Celebrating Our Second Class of ZingPath Grads!

We recently celebrated the graduation of our second ZingPath class. The program, a partnership with Pathways to Success, aims to help students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a professional setting, specifically the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Each student who participates gets a chance to work in a Zingerman’s business, gain training, and earn an hourly wage. This year, two students were also awarded $500 scholarships.

Pathways to Success Principal Tyrone Weeks says he’s seen positive results among the students, some of whom even stay on and continue working after the program is over.

“In spite of their challenges, we’ve been able to have a relationship with [the students] where they can see beyond their current situation and look into the future and see themselves being something that is marvelous,” said Principal Weeks in his address at the graduation. “As they are at their current jobs, we hear nothing short of tremendous testimonies of the supervisors of the ZCoB family. And when they come back into the school, they talk about the real-world experiences that have opened their mind to the possibilities.”

Zingerman’s Tracie Wolfe, ZingPath participant Pheobe Bennett, Pathways Principal Tyrone Weeks

During the ceremony, past ZingPath participants also spoke about the impact of the program. One  student from last year’s graduating class said that working at Zingerman’s helped him become a better communicator. “Before I worked at Zingerman’s, I wasn’t much of a people person,” he told the audience, adding that he’s benefited from new opportunities and more responsibilities. Another young man said he’s matured a lot in the past year, remarking “ZingPath gave me a chance to grow as a person and meet a lot of people that I would have never met.”

Many of this year’s grads echoed such sentiments. Some said that they’d built relationships with Zingerman’s staff and had been given encouragement and advice while others noted that mastering the fast-paced nature of many of the businesses gave them confidence in their personal lives.

Staff present at the ceremony expressed how much they, too, have benefited from ZingPath—the youthful spirit of the students brings new energy to the businesses and a new perspective to the ZCoB. Tracie Wolfe, who directs the program, says that in addition to seeing students in our community grow and gain confidence, it’s a real honor for her, personally and professionally, to get to know the students and provide mentorship.

“The students at Pathways face many extraordinary challenges everyday and to see all their hard work to overcome these and become such great employees at Zingerman’s is something truly worth celebrating and embracing,” says Tracie. “I look forward to seeing each and every student pursue their path to greatness and achieving everything they dream possible!”

If you’d like to learn more about ZingPath, check out the website.Watch our short film about ZingPath:

Here are some more photos from the event: