Published in Economic Development

Grand Rapids youth program will temporarily employ 1,000 residents

BY Wednesday, June 17, 2020 10:21am

GRAND RAPIDS — A youth employment program will launch this summer, employing 1,000 Grand Rapids residents ages 15-21. 

The city of Grand Rapids is facilitating the program in partnership with dozens of local businesses and organizations, including Spectrum Health, Meijer Inc. and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. The City of Grand Rapids plans to offer 50 positions across city departments as part of the GRow1000 initiative.

City Manager Mark Washington COURTESY PHOTO

Participating businesses and 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 be between ages 15 and 21 as of July 22, live in the city of Grand Rapids and be eligible to work in the U.S. Grand Rapids is home to more than 9,000 residents in this age group.

The city is prioritizing applicants from the 49503, 49507, 49508 and 49509 zip codes, which city officials say have been “most heavily impacted by disproportionate outcomes,” including the most cases of COVID-19, according to Kent County data. 

“We are excited to partner with the city of Grand Rapids on this program,” Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker said in a statement. “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 deadline to apply is June 29, which can be done online through the city’s website. Required paid training begins June 29 and includes program orientation topics such as workplace etiquette and safety. 

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. 

That roughly 73 percent of Grand Rapids residents younger than 18 are persons of color presents a unique opportunity for participating businesses and organizations, said City Manager Mark Washington. 

“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,” Washington said.

The city is serving as the employer of record for the program. Businesses and organizations can participate by sponsoring a participant at the cost of $1,500 each to be placed in various businesses and organizations throughout the city. Local businesses or organizations can also provide youth with employment opportunities at their respective business or organization and pay their stipend to the city for the work. 

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