Flint & Genesee , Career Alliance, MDNR and MEDC Partner on Teen Employment

New funding boosts number of jobs from 500 to 620

Summer Youth Initiative (SYI)(Flint, Mich.)  Once a rite of passage to adulthood and the workforce, jobs for teenagers are not as prevalent as they used to be.  But don’t fret just yet because several entities have provided funding to hire hundreds of teens in Flint and Genesee County through the Regional Chamber’s Summer Youth Initiative program.

Eager to support teen employment and impressed by the results of the TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative programs, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Michigan Economic Growth Corporation (MEDC) and the Genesee/Shiawassee Michigan Works/Career Alliance have awarded the program grants totaling $245,235 that will increase the number of Flint-area teens working from around 500 to over 620 for the summer and throughout the next school year.

New grants for 2012-2013 include $140,785 from the MDNR/MEDC Summer Employment Program to the Genesee Area Focus Fund along with support from Career Alliance ($104,500) through Workforce Investment Act (WIA) federal funds. The Genesee Area Focus Fund is a fund-raising arm of the Regional Chamber.

Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber says that partnerships have played an important role in the success of the SYI program.

“We appreciate the grant support from state organizations MDNR, MEDC and Career Alliance. They are joining a great group of funders that help SYI to be a mechanism for local teens to gain their first work experience,” said Herman. “This is another great example of how effective partnerships between business, communities, state and local leaders and education can help produce a competitive workforce and enable our young people to realize their full potential.

“This is a great benefit for our business and nonprofit community,” Herman added. “Because of SYI, they have a qualified talent pool when they are ready to hire summer help.”

Each year, TeenQuest and the Summer Youth Initiative help teens prepare for and connect with jobs in a number of fields. These include working as day camp counselors for young children, performing general office duties, helping other young people develop their reading skills, and assisting with beautification, gardening and library programs. SYI participants also volunteer at least one day during the summer at various community-based programs.

To be eligible for the work programs, teens must be graduates of TeenQuest, a Flint & Genesee Chamber program. TeenQuest is a free, five-week pre-employment and leadership training session that prepares young adults for the 21st century work environment.

“We are thrilled by the additional support for SYI,” said Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President, Education & Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber. “TeenQuest and SYI play an integral role in helping young people become better prepared for college and the 21st century workplace. It would not be possible without the great support we receive from our state and local partners.”

According to Alicia Booker, CEO, Career Alliance, training for teens is imperative. She says we must ensure that young people have the proper skill sets to enter the workforce and be successful.

“The WIA funds are a perfect fit for the Summer Youth Initiative program,” said Booker. “We have seen firsthand how the TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative programs have positively impacted the lives of thousands of teens in our community.  We want to do whatever we can to support these programs.”

Bruce Ross, Chief of Field Operations for the Parks & Recreation Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says summer employment programs for teens are vitally important.

“As a teenager I participated in a summer youth employment program in Detroit, and the experience saved my life,” said Ross. “It gave me the opportunity to grow my skills in communication and customer service skills, and I learned all about careers in Parks and Recreation.  It’s great that summer employment programs are continuing so lots of other teens can benefit, and the community benefits as well.”

As previously announced in June, the SYI program was generously awarded nearly $900,000 in grants including $825,000 from C. S. Mott Foundation, along with support from the Ruth Mott Foundation ($50,000), Community Foundation of Greater Flint ($16,000) and Rotary Club of Greater Flint Sunrise ($900).

About the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce

The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce (www.flintandgenesee.org) is the voice of business and community advocacy in Genesee County. The Regional Chamber is over 100 years old, was established before the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and is a founding member of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Two words describe the Regional Chamber as it enters its second century of service: collaboration and partnership. It is our goal to work with government, business, education and nonprofit organizations to support the growth and development of the community economically, culturally and socially.

About the Summer Youth Initiative and TeenQuest

The Summer Youth Initiative is a program that helps Flint-area teens find paid summer jobs. It’s open to students who’ve completed the TeenQuest afterschool program, which provides pre-employment and leadership training to students ages 14 to 19 to help them succeed in college and the 21st century workplace. Both programs are administered by the Genesee Area Focus Fund, a supporting organization of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. To apply or learn more, visit www.flintandgenesee.org/teenquest.