Award-Winning Water Mentoring Program Celebrates 2019 Participants

DPW Press Release

On Friday, Nov. 22, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young joined the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) and its program partners to celebrate the completion of the 5th class of the award-winning YH2O Water Mentoring Program. 

Earlier this week, the YH2O program was honored to be named a winner of the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Bridging the Gap Achievement Award. The award recognized the program for mentorship and for striving to enhance the role and impact of minority- and women-owned businesses in the Baltimore region.

Last year, DPW’s YH2O program received the Water Environment Foundation’s (WEF) Public Communication and Outreach Program Award for significant accomplishments in promoting awareness of water environment issues. 

DPW’s YH2O program partners with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED), and the Chesapeake Water Environment Association (CWEA) to train young adults for careers in the water industry. This innovative mentoring program provides participants with opportunities to explore water industry careers through worksite tours, job shadowing and connection with a career coach/mentor. The last phase of the program provides graduates with a summer job at DPW and opportunities to interview for full-time, entry-level positions with government or private companies.  

To enroll in the program, participants must be a Baltimore City resident, between 18 -24 years of age, with a high school diploma or GED, and be unemployed or underemployed.

Celebrating 2019 YH20 Participants

DPW Chief of Staff Johnnie Hemphill, a representative of the President of the City Council, City Council members, Comptroller Joan Pratt, and family members of  the 17 YH2O participants joined the Mayor to celebrate completion of the six-month program by the participants.

The water mentoring program was launched in 2015 by DPW Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E., to equip the young workers with the skills needed to fill entry-level positions in the water industry as seasoned water industry workers retire.

YH20 is successfully building a pipeline of future water industry workers. A member of the inaugural YH20 program, Raquel Robbins was selected as DPW’s 2018-2019 Employee of the Year. Ms. Robbins is a Liaison Officer I in the Bureau of Water and Wastewater, and was the only female and college graduate in DPW's 2015 YH2O Water Mentoring Program. She impressed her mentors and coaches in the Customer Engagement Unit, where she initially worked, with her ability to assist customers with water billing issues.

To date, 75 young men and women have full-time water industry jobs thanks to the water mentoring program. These young people have joined the ranks of Public Works Departments of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County, and in private industry.

Since its inception, the program has been re-branded as YH2O and has become a national model for other cities and public/private utilities. Several have already adopted the program in Texas, Mississippi and North Carolina.

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Jennifer Combs
Kurt Kocher
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The Baltimore City Department of Public Works supports the health, environment, and economy of our City and region by cleaning our neighborhoods and waterways and providing its customers with safe drinking water and sustainable energy practices.