The Willis Economic Development Corporation has a created a new program that will implement a meaningful mentorship/apprenticeship pipeline in the local community for students and young adults, age 16-24. The program will begin in June, 2017. The EDC is currently seeking business owners in the Willis ETJ to provide a meaningful work experience with opportunities for job shadowing and on-the- job training, as well as students ages 16 – 18 who have an interest in participating. The internships will be paid and partially supplemented by the EDC; training will be provided by Dr. Michael Fortunato.


This program was designed to meet multiple objectives:

  1. Address the problem of youth delinquency and problem behaviors within the community;
  2. Retain promising young professionals and craftspeople within the community to take meaningful jobs and contribute to the local economic base;
  3. Provide substantive vocational and professional education to young adults, especially those young adults labeled as “at risk”;
  4. Provide leadership training to youth, so that they may become mentors for other young people in similar situations;
  5. Raise the skill level, and thus the income-earning and creative potential, of the young workforce.

This new program is intended to match local talent with willing apprentices in the Willis area. There are two tracks to the program. The first track, called the Navigator Track, is aimed towards high-school students ages 16-18. The second track, the “Director Track,” provides post high-school age young adults the opportunity to explore positions in various business and management professions. The EDC will implement the Navigator Track in June 2017, and, depending up on its success, will continue with the second track in the fall.


The Navigator Track provides active high school students with the opportunity to “apprentice” with a local company for 9 hours per week over the course of 9 weeks over the summer. This educational track is aimed at discovery: Learning about different work opportunities within the community, and building relationships with multiple employers in the community. Students in this track will attend a leadership camp early in the summer that will cover basic issues of leadership, citizenship, and local community service. Students will switch apprenticeships every 3 weeks, in order to have the opportunity to apprentice with three different establishments across a wide range of work experiences.

Navigators will earn $9 an hour, $1.62 of which will be supplemented by the EDC. In addition, the EDC will help Dr. Fortunato identify apprentices and provide locations for all workshops to be held. The EDC will also identify local employers that we will use to match apprentices to experiences. One or more members of the EDC (or local volunteers) will be available to serve as a career counselor to apprentices following the program, with a formal career counseling session being held at the Navigator workshop.


We need businesses on board for this program! If you are a business owner and you are interested in participating, please download the application below and return to the address indicated on the form.

WYPCP Business Application

If you have questions or concerns, please contact EDC Director Stacey Osborne at 713-456-9429 or fill out the contact form below.


Please feel free to download one of the flyers below for the program, and share with your friends and colleagues!