GR finishes youth summer jobs program, plans to relaunch in 2021

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The GRow1000 program in Grand Rapids has now wrapped up for the summer. The goal was to provide jobs for 1,000 young people living in the city.

GRow 1000 was designed to give Grand Rapids youth a brighter tomorrow and it’s something that became much more crucial during the pandemic.

“I mean, I had a lot of time to read and do a lot of things that I don’t usually have time to do, but it did get a little boring after a while,” said Abigail Haan, a participant in the program and 11th grader at City High School in Grand Rapids.

“We had a lot of pool closures, a lot of amenities that were closed this summer and we thought what productive way could we engage our youth and do it as both from economic development as well as youth development,” said City Manager Mark Washington.

Washington helped launch the GRow1000 program. It provided jobs for 350 students in the city ages 15 to 21. Each earned $10 an hour and worked 20 hours a week.

Haan worked at Great Lakes Label Company over the summer and this was her first job.

“It gave me a lot of public speaking skills and things like that and it helped me with time management, which was also really nice,” said Haan.

Connie Bohatch worked on the logistics behind GRow1000 and found both businesses and students to take part. More than 25 organizations committed.

“Having the opportunity to do something productive and also make some money while they’re doing it and feeling valued in the community was really key,” said Bohatch.

Haan says even though next summer might look a little different than this one, she’s glad she was able to learn skills that she can take with her far beyond the pandemic.

“I’d say it’s a great opportunity, you should give it a try, it’s only six weeks, so even if you don’t love it, it’s still a good experience,” said Haan.

Washington also mentioned that they plan to continue this program next summer in hopes of reaching 1,000 students.

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