Social Enterprise Internship: Collaboration that Empowers New American Teens

Social Enterprise Internship: Collaboration that Empowers New American Teens

By Estefanìa Romero
Teen Internship Facilitator

At Treetops we passionately believe that each of our new neighbors has gifts, skills, and dreams that make our community better and that message is echoed in our Teen Social Enterprise Internship.

The Teen Social Enterprise Internship allows the participating teen girls to immerse themselves in professional experience through their work with Treetops. During the 10-week program, they become part of the Treetops Social Enterprise team––supporting sales and retail, learning about the power of storytelling, planning for their future, and designing a final product for Treetops’s core line that shares a message they want to convey.

During this past internship season, I had the privilege to work with our teen intern, Peninah, one-on-one. She is a teen with the gift of compassion, wisdom, and insight into how we can powerfully navigate mental health. The more I got to know Peninah, the more I realized her personal story in self-empowerment would be the message for her product design and that is exactly what she did in creating the “Find Your Voice” guided journal.

The Design Process

My role as the Internship Facilitator was to help Peninah navigate this new experience as she brainstormed her product idea and communicated a clear vision for her design. It was important that Peninah's message be heard, her intentions be met, and that she understood the ever-flowing process of product creation. 

We were fortunate to partner with designer and friend of the Collective, James Fry from Germination Labs. James and his team were essential in making Peninah's journal come to life. From our very first meeting, it was clear that Peninah's best interest was at heart. James listened to Peninah's story and took notes about the vision she wanted for the journal. As we continued through the collaboration, James kept Peninah’s message and personality at the forefront of the design and any alterations were done with thoughtfulness and respect for her creation. Both the Treetops team and Peninah are grateful for our positive relationship with Germination Labs. The journal would not have been what it is without them.

Past Internship Collaborations

At Treetops, we thrive off our ability to build meaningful relationships with the New Americans we support and the local community we live in. Every internship brings a new opportunity for our teens to see their creative ideas come to life and learn from the businesses we partner with. We have now completed three internship programs that have produced three unique product experiences:

Jessica Fields from Knots of Love, taught Angelique, Nadia, and Maombi the art of macrame (2018). 

Samantha McIntosh, jewelry maker and co-owner of Dime & Regal, helped create Grace's necklace (2019). 

James Fry, the owner of Germination Labs, helped design Peninah's self-empowerment journal (2020). 

We want to invite other local businesses and creatives to join us as we continue to grow our Teen Social Enterprise Internship and work with us to empower teens to spread their unique message through product creation and design.

Reach Out!