GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids employment academy is hoping to prepare and place young people in the workplace long term.

A program called GRow1000 started back in 2020 with the hopes of employing 1,000 young people during the summer. A spinoff of that, GRow1000 Academy, focuses on long-term employment.

“It’s so important for them to learn how to build upon their social capital,” said Shannon Harris, the executive director of Our Community’s Children who helped curate the effort.

She said the academy focuses on 18- to 24-year-olds who will go through about 40 hours of preemployment training. After the training they are eligible for a job that lasts four months, instead of just the summer, so they can begin networking.

“Young people, when they go to work, they’re in a job that maybe they heard about through their friend or a family member, but the young people we work with don’t necessarily have those connections right now,” Harris said.

The training will include courses involving resume and cover letter writing, how to interview properly, a dis-behavioral assessment which identifies how they work best in the workplace, an acting workshop to focus on public speaking and pronunciation and more.

On Friday morning, academy participants will be paired with employers at a job fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers on the 9th floor of city hall, located at 300 Monroe Avenue NW. Funding for this academy comes from a grant through Bank of America. 

For the full conversation with Shannon Harris, watch the video in the player above.