GR launches youth employment program for a second summer

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — EuzenConnect, a virtual job connection site, needed some creative minds last summer.

Union High senior Pabloe Villalvazo needed work after COVID-19 shut down his food service job.

GRow1000 brought them together.

“It was really important that I could find something that could finically help me out at the time,” Villalvazo said. “So, I was super relieved when I found out I was accepted into the program.”

Grand Rapids will again partner with local businesses and organizations to provide young people with jobs this summer.

GRow1000 is a youth employment program intended to help Grand Rapids residents aged 15-24 find summer jobs.

The program was first launched last year to help the city invest in young people’s futures, especially during the pandemic. “Providing meaningful work is important in helping our youth stay productive and build skills during the summer,” city manager Mark Washington said.

Last summer, Grand Rapids was able to employ 350 teens and young adults at more than 60 job sites. This year, the city says it is hoping to provide 650 young people with jobs.

For six weeks, from June 14 to July 23, participants will work at local businesses or organizations for 20 hours a week. Training will begin May 18.

Anyone age 17 or younger will earn $10 an hour, and anyone age 18 to 24 will earn $13 an hour. Participants must be eligible to work in the U.S. The city will provide bus passes as needed.

Beyond a job, they also received something that would help them prepare for the future.

“One of the things it offered me was to be able to work from home — the flexibility and the responsibility — because even though I’m home, I still have to work. So, it really made me be more on my task,” Villalvazo said.

Close to 50 businesses from a variety of industries are taking part.

“No taxpayer dollars are being used to fund this program. It’s all from the philanthropic community as well as the business community,” said Shannon Harris, interim executive director of the city’s Our Community’s Children department.

“It’s an opportunity for young people to explore their career interests. It’s an opportunity for employers to see, hey, this is a great talent pool we need to pull from,” Harris continued.

Those interested in participating can apply now through April 19.

The city is encouraging businesses and organizations to participate, through providing a paid job or internship, or providing financial contributions to help place young people at a local nonprofit. The total amount for an internship for someone 17 or younger is $1,600 or and $2,000 for those 18 and older.

More information and an application link can be found at grandrapidsmi.gov.

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