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Making Positive Choices with Merck

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Making Positive Choices with Merck

Street Law's Judy Zimmer with Karen Hunt, a Merck volunteer in Pennsylvania.

This year marks the third year of Merck’s Making Positive Choices program! Since 2011, we’ve worked with the Merck Company Foundation to implement an employee volunteer program that brings Street Law’s empowering, law-related education lessons to vulnerable youths in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Volunteers from across the company go into classroom and community-based settings to teach lessons on conflict resolution, law, safety, advocacy, and career exploration.

In the past year, participants have worked with young people aging out of foster care and middle and high school students:

  • Teams of volunteers are working with young people at the Somerset Home for Temporarily Displaced Children in Bridgewater, NJ; Valley Youth House in Montgomery and Bucks County, PA; and New Life Youth & Family Services in Schwenksville, PA. The Merck volunteers teach youth residents about law and the legal system and develop in them the skills to use that knowledge to successfully transition into adulthood. The lessons focus on practical topics like employment, housing, education, and personal finance. 
  • Volunteers are partnering with middle school health classes to teach about crime and crime prevention in a way that is useful to young people in their everyday lives. These lessons cover several law and safety topics, develop communication and problem-solving skills, and teach young people about community resources and how to access them.  
  • Merck volunteers focus their time with high school students on career exploration. They help students consider their skills and interests, explore possible career paths, and provide advice on searching and interviewing for jobs. Students also learn about their rights and responsibilities as employees and how to handle conflict in the workplace.   

Since its inception, the Making Positive Choices program has trained more than 200 volunteers and benefited about 1600 young people!