City, businesses partner to employ local youth

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The city of Grand Rapids launched a youth employment program aimed at providing jobs for 1,000 young people.

GRow1000: Employing 1000 GR youth for a brighter tomorrow is designed for Grand Rapids residents ages 15 to 21. The city is home to more than 9,000 residents in this age group.

The program is a collaborative effort between the city and local businesses and organizations. Participating organizations will offer young people 120-hour work experiences over six weeks starting July 13.

Youth participants will earn $10 an hour for 20 hours each week. They will have the opportunity to earn up to $1,500 during the program, which goes through Aug. 21. To participate, individuals must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be between 15 and 21 years old as of July 22
  • Live in the city of Grand Rapids
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S.

The city will prioritize youth applicants from the 49503, 49507, 49508 and 49509 ZIP codes, as these areas have been most heavily impacted by disproportionate outcomes, including COVID-19.

“We are committed to ensuring that all of our young people have access to opportunities,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “This is an important opportunity for us to come together in true West Michigan fashion and respond to a critical need through a public-private partnership.”

The fact that roughly 73% of young people in Grand Rapids younger than 18 are persons of color presents a unique opportunity for participating businesses and organizations, Washington said.

Youth may apply online through June 29. Required paid training begins June 29 and includes program orientation and topics such as workplace etiquette and safety and dressing for success. Transportation options are being developed.

The city is working with Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Community College and other school systems that serve city youth and community organizations to recruit young people for this employment program. The city is serving as the employer of record and interested businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in one of two ways:

  • Sponsor youth at $1,500 each to be placed in various businesses and organizations throughout the city
  • Provide youth with employment opportunities at their respective business or organization and pay their stipend to the city for the work. Employment may continue upon completion of the program based on mutual agreement.

Spectrum Health and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. are among the first to commit to the program, both choosing to host participants at their respective organizations.

“We are excited to partner with the city of Grand Rapid on this program,” said Tina Freese Decker, Spectrum Health’s president and CEO. “It will give our youth the opportunity to learn new skills and contribute to meaningful work in achieving our mission of improving health, inspiring hope and saving lives.”

Tim Kelly, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., agreed.

“These jobs will not only help better downtown Grand Rapids but will also help youth in our city gain important skills to succeed in the future,” Kelly said. “At DGRI, we are committed to providing opportunities for youth and diversifying the downtown workforce. That is why we are proud to partner with the city of Grand Rapids on this important initiative.”

Other partners in Grow1000

  • Amway Corp.
  • Autocam Medical
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Brian Harris
  • Cascade Engineering
  • Crystal Flash
  • CWD Real Estate Investment
  • DeVos Foundation
  • Feyen Zylstra
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Huntington Bank
  • JD Loeks
  • Jireh Metal Products
  • Kent County
  • Meijer
  • Metro Health
  • Mixed Staffing & Recruiting
  • OST
  • PNC Bank
  • Rockford Construction
  • SeyferthPR
  • Spectrum
  • Steelcase
  • Trillium Investments
  • Warner Norcross + Judd
  • Wege Foundation
  • Windquest
  • Wolverine Worldwide

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