Ryan Bobst has been selected to lead Quad-Cities Career Connections, a new partnership between Black Hawk and Eastern Iowa Community colleges, Western Illinois University, Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and United Way of the Quad-Cities Area.

The new position is part of a collaboration to increase career awareness for students by linking businesses and schools. Organizers said the goal is to match volunteers from all sectors with at-risk students to give them real-world experiences, showing them the importance of staying in school.

Volunteers give classroom presentations, workplace tours and other interactive learning opportunities that take the concepts in the classroom and show how they are necessary to gain and keep employment.

“It’s great to be a part of such a dynamic partnership. We want to connect students to Quad-City  businesses that can provide classroom presentations, worksite tours, job shadows, internships and other hands-on opportunities,” Bobst said.

“We are looking forward to the community continuing to step up and really provide these real-world experiences that will connect students to our local workforce, while demonstrating the importance of staying in school.”

Bobst has professional experience in community planning, organizing and program development. He is an adjunct instructor through the University of Iowa’s School of Social Work.

Quad-Cities Career Connections is one of the ways Achieve Quad-Cities is working to increase the graduation rate. Achieve Quad-Cities is a community-wide, cross-sector partnership with the goal to increase the high school graduation rate locally. The program, which is in its third year, is led by United Way and Community Foundation of the Great River Bend.

Career Connections is a new program that enhances and expands what Achieve has been doing, said Jenny Parvin, vice president, brand strategy and marketing for United Way.

“We are not creating new programs, but figuring where in the community things exist,” she said. “It is about how to capitalize on our resources. It is also figuring out where are the gaps and what organization are doing great work with students, so we can address those issues.”

The collaboration has developed mentoring and career exploration opportunities in schools and has now moved toward collecting regional data to guide and align the most effective, efficient strategies to keep students in school.