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Youth Force GR funds summer youth employment

Grand Rapids Community Foundation grants continue to help nonprofit summer youth employment programs.

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Break Time Bakery provides summer employment for youth with the help of funds received from Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Break Time Bakery provides summer employment for youth with the help of funds received from Grand Rapids Community Foundation. /courtesy of Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) summer jobs program continues to help local youth find summer employment and gain job training for the third consecutive year. Last summer the Youth Force GR program received a $900,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to fund nonprofit youth employment programs in the area for two summers.

At the time the program started, the recession and unemployment rate had adults applying for jobs typically held by youth and young adults, according to Marcia Rapp, Vice President of Programs. The grants provided to summer job programs in the area help kids find and maintain jobs while learning skills typically gained through first jobs. Kids learn skills such as how to create a resume, dress appropriately for work and how to manage their time.

GRCF gave twelve nonprofits grants ranging from $5,000 to $60,000. Jubilee Jobs, Other Way Ministries, Kids Food Basket and Project C.O.O.L. are a few of the nonprofits that received grants.

“Youth can learn and feel good about themselves while creating a product or providing a service,” says Rapp. “All the organizations are very interested in not just the work habits of the youth but also in talking to them about their grades, financial literacy, saving for college and more.”

Rapp says the program increased dramatically in size from its first to second year.

This year, about 350 local young people will be involved in the program.  Last summer, participants worked more than 46,600 hours in jobs such as landscaping, restaurant work and salon work.

The program is using social media sites to share some of the experiences of this summer’s youth with the community, says Chelsie Wyse, public relations and marketing intern working on the Youth Force GR program.

“It’s changing lives and inspiring them," said Wyse. "And making them into really awesome young adults.” 

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