Jenna Baron is the Executive Director of ARYSE (Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education).
ARYSE came to be because Jenna saw a need in the community. Students who came to the U.S. as refugees often have a lot of needs, not the least of which is to develop their English skills. Jenna created ARYSE and its flagship program PRYSE Academy to address those needs. PRYSE is a summer camp specifically for refugee kids. They have an opportunity to work on their English skills, build their sense of community and stay engaged over the summer.
JFCS Refugee and Immigrant Services and ARYSE run an after-school program, staffed almost entirely with volunteers (shout-out to Andrew van Treek). This past summer, JFCS Career Development Center worked with PRYSE Academy through our Lean and Earn program. We placed 3 participants at PRYSE Academy as counselors. These students had been campers at PRYSE Academy and were now old enough to be counselors and mentor they younger students. We are working on ideas to grow the partnership between PRYSE Academy and Learn and Earn. Being able to provide refugee students with meaningful summer programming, English language exposure and actual paid work experience is not only a personally fulfilling experience, it’s one that makes sense economic sense for our region; equipping local youth with language skills and work experience as they make their way through high school to eventually enter the work-force.
ARYSE is a small non-profit with just a few staff members. The growth they have experienced and the impact they have made with such limited resources is quite remarkable. Jenna is very in touch with they youth she works with and always keeps their needs at the forefront of her mind. She wants them to decide what their programming should look like and how it should be implemented. She does not assume to have all the answers and is hesitant to make major programming decisions without hearing from her participants first.
For more information on ARYSE and the programs discussed, please visit: https://www.arysepgh.org/