Ridge Hill Academy Introduces Yonkers Students To Retail

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Wendy Nadel, Executive Director of Yonkers Partners In Education, joined local dignitaries and business leaders for the launch of the Ridge Hill Academy Tuesday at WestMED inside the Ridge Hill shopping center. Photo Credit: Matt Bultman

YONKERS, N.Y. – An educational non-profit is teaming up with Ridge Hill developers to give Yonkers students lessons in the world of retail.

Yonkers Partners In Education and Forest City Ratner Companies on Tuesday announced the launch of the Ridge Hill Academy, a 10-week workshop designed to give students a crash course on the retail and management industry.

Over the course of the next three months, 25 students from Yonkers Public Schools will learn the ins and outs of marketing, what it takes to operate a department store or restaurant and how to manage a security crew.

“You’re going to get to some really cool things in these 10 weeks,” YPIE Executive Director Wendy Nadel told the students gathered inside Ridge Hill’s WestMED building for the program’s launch. “And from this we’re hoping that you really get a sense of how this works and you can begin to shape in your own mind where you want your careers to go.”

The career exploration program, funded by Forest City Ratner as part of a $100,000 grant to YPIE, will continue for at least two years, with a new group of students each semester.

The select group will be exposed to different areas of the retail and shopping center management, getting lessons from executives at Securitas USA, Whole Foods, The Cheesecake Factory and Lord & Taylor, among others.

Organizers say it is a good place for students to connect with mentors and potentially find summer and post-graduate job opportunities.

“The goal is to show you what it takes for individuals and teams to run a shopping center,” said Kathy Welch, Senior Vice President and Director of Retail Development at Forest City Ratner. “We hope you come away from this learning a little bit about yourselves – what you like and what you don’t like.”

Yonkers Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio said anytime students can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real world experiences, it is a valuable opportunity.

“Whatever you learn from the classroom is very academic,” he said. “But when you can take the skills and make them authentic, when you go into the community and work side by side with individuals from the community, you’re going to gain an experience.”

Islain Dominguez, an 11th-grader at Saunders Technical and Trades School, said she hoped the program would help get her started on the path to her dream job.

“This will take me one step closer to me goal of becoming a fashion designer,” she said.

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