Over the past 12 years, three organizations have been on a mission to secure jobs for Wichita’s youth. These youth advocates are the Greater Wichita YMCA’s Job Prep, the City of Wichita’s The Way to Work Youth Program, and WorkForce Alliance’s Youth Employment Project. Last year these teams formed an alliance called HYPE – Helping Youth Prepare for Employment.

Together, their impact is greater and they’re reaching far more youth than they could alone and each organization is work with a defined age. The city of Wichita is working with 14 – 15 year-olds; Job Prep with youth 15 – 17; and WorkForce Alliance caters to 16 – 19-year-olds.

With record unemployment among adults, and many small businesses employers struggling due to a decrease in revenue, it may be even more difficult for youth to find employment this summer. That makes a program like HYPE even more important.

HYPE is more than a summer job placement program, it’s also a summer job skill development program. They spend time training youth in the program to succeed on their job.

“We focus on getting the kids ready by honing in on their soft skills,” said Tyrone Baker, director for Job Prep. “We teach them how to introduce themselves; how to hold a meaningful conversation with eye contact. We teach them how to dress and present themselves. We always tell students, from the moment you walk in the door, you’re being judged – so know that it’s go time.”

Job Sites Needed

For the employers, one of the parts of participating in the HYPE program is that the students work at your organization at no cost to employers, because the organizations receive donations and grants for this purpose.

Na’shell Williams, the city of Wichita’s program leader, has been using social media to secure summer job sites for program participants.

“Wichita employers/ business owners, I need help!” was the headline of her May 11 Facebook post. “I am looking to place 100 youth at job sites. My job will pay them. You don’t need to pay them. I just need to provide youth between the ages of 14 – 17 an opportunity to learn job skills. If you would like to have youth work for you please let me know.”

The same is true for the other two job programs. They need to secure jobs, already paid, for their students.

Nonprofits and small businesses who need help obtaining employable workers, consider using a summer job program student worker. You get a free worker, and an opportunity to help a young, talented individual develop their work skills. While the students gain money and time well spent.

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

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