Nearly 10 years ago, some Detroit youth had never received a formal paycheck. That’s changing.
In early July, 8,000 Detroit young people, ages 14 to their early 20s, will gain that experience when they are employed by the city through the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program.
Dierk Hall, president and CEO of City Connect Detroit, says the program is not income-based or geared toward a specific group.
“It’s not one of those programs that’s designated for the poor, the disenfranchised or the shutout … it’s for any young person who wants to work and gain a valuable experience, and be exposed to the world of work,” Hall says.
Grow Detroit’s Young Talent is a summer youth employment program administered by City Connect Detroit with support from local companies and municipal agencies. The program was created in 2009 by the Detroit Youth Employment Consortium, a public-private partnership developed by The Skillman Foundation.
The program launched with help from federal stimulus funding that allowed it to host jobs for 10,000 youth. But in 2010 that funding was no longer available and only 4,000 young people could participate.
Through fundraising and assistance from Mayor Mike Duggan, the numbers grew to 6,000 in 2015 and 8,000 last year.
“It’s great we’re putting 8,000 young people to work this year,” Hall says, “but a number of young people applied for those jobs, and so we still have some work left. But we celebrate what we’ve been able to do.”
City Connect opportunities are designed to provide formal work experience and the organization encourages youth to gain additional exposure. While City Connect Detroit doesn’t host its own job preparation events, some upcoming training and volunteer opportunities in the arts are available through its sponsors.
Editor’s Note: This piece is written by TheHUB’s freelance writer Debanina Seaton
Lead photo: GDYT participants gain valuable work experience. Photo courtesy of Geneva Williams