Employing Grand Rapids Youth for a Brighter Tomorrow

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The City of Grand Rapids—in partnership with dozens of local businesses and organizations—has announced a youth employment program aimed at providing jobs for 1,000 young people.

The GRow1000 initiative, employing 1,000 Grand Rapids youth for a brighter tomorrow, is designed for residents ages 15 to 21—applicable to more than 9,000 city residents.

Participating businesses and organizations, including the city, will offer young people 120-hour work experiences over six weeks, starting July 13, 2020. Youth participants will earn $10 an hour for 20 hours each week and will have the opportunity to earn up to $1,500 during the program, which goes through August 21.

To participate, individuals must meet these requirements:

  • Be between 15 and 21 years old as of July 22, 2020.
  • Live in the city of Grand Rapids.
  • Be eligible to work in the United States.

The City of Grand Rapids will prioritize youth applicants from the 49503, 49507, 49508 and 49509 ZIP codes—areas that 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.

"We are grateful for our partners as we work together to give our community's youth exposure and access to employment opportunities, practical knowledge, and important connections that can prepare them for their future."

Youth have until June 29, 2020, to apply. Required paid training begins June 29 and includes program orientation and topics such as workplace etiquette and safety and dressing for success. Options for transportation are currently being developed. 

The City of Grand Rapids is working closely with Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Community College, other school systems that serve city youth, and community organizations to recruit young people for this employment program, and is serving as the employer of record. 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 of Grand Rapids 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, choosing to host participants at their respective organizations. Spectrum Health, the area's largest employer, hopes to inspire more youth to serve others.

"We are excited to partner with the City of Grand Rapids on this program," said Tina Freese Decker, President and CEO of Spectrum Health. "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.

"By providing mentoring and educational opportunities, we hope to encourage them to pursue a career in health care and engage in lifelong learning and serving others."

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

"Spectrum's commitment and that of all of our partner organizations means they are doing their part to help diversify our community's workforce now and in the future."

Tim Kelly, President and CEO of DGRI, agrees.

"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."

Additional businesses, organizations and individuals committed to GRow1000 to date include:

  • 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
  • Steelcase
  • Trillium Investments
  • Warner Norcross + Judd
  • Wege Foundation
  • Windquest
  • Wolverine Worldwide

Courtesy of West Michigan Woman.

Photo courtesy of The City of Grand Rapids.


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