Grand Rapids launches summer jobs program for young people

Grand Rapids leaders have approved spending $750,000 on a summer jobs program for youths ages 15 to 21.
The jobs program announced Tuesday, June 16, is a partnership between the city, Kent County, and dozens of local businesses and organizations with the aim to provide jobs to 1,000 young people in the city.
City commissioners signed off on the $750,000 expenditure to get the program going at their Tuesday, June 16, meeting.
The program will prioritize accepting young people that live in 49503, 49507, 49508 and 49509 ZIP codes. City officials say these areas have been most heavily impacted by disproportionate outcomes, including COVID-19.
The jobs program was one of a number of initiatives to improve police-community relations that city officials announced earlier this month.
People accepted into the program must be between the ages of 15 and 21, residents of Grand Rapids, and eligible to work in the U.S. They will be paid $10 an hour for up to 20 hours each week.
The minimum wage in Michigan for those 18 and older is $9.65. For those ages 16 to 17, the state's minimum wage is $8.20.
So far, 27 businesses and organizations including Meijer, Amway, Spectrum Health, and Steelcase, as well as Kent County, have committed to participating in the program.
“We are committed to ensuring that all of our young people have access to opportunities,” City Manager Mark Washington said in a statement. “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."
Young people can apply for the program here. Applications will be taken through June 29, and the program ends Aug. 21.
Paid training, which begins June 29, includes program orientation and topics such as workplace etiquette and safety and proper professional attire. Transportation options for young workers are being developed.
Businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate by sponsoring young people in the program at $1,500 each or to provide the young people with employment opportunities. The city will then provide the employer with a stipend for the work.
According to the report on the expenditure by city staff, the city hopes to recover the costs through employer payments, sponsorships, and federal grants related to the coronavirus pandemic.
So far, 27 businesses including Meijer, Amway, Spectrum Health, and Steelcase, as well as Kent County, have committed to participating in the program.