A summer grant from The Hagerman Foundation helped make it possible for hundreds of high school students to participate in TeenQuest, a free pre-employment and leadership training program administered by the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. This five-week program helped young people navigate today’s competitive job market by teaching them about financial literacy, job interview techniques, and the importance of soft skills.
Once a student from TeenQuest graduates, they are eligible to participate in the Summer Youth Initiative (SYI). SYI provides paid summer work experiences for youth ages 14-19. One of the teens participating in the program this year was Zipporah, who was hired by the food bank and worked on an assembly line sorting over 20,000 pounds of food daily. “This was my first job and it was an amazing experience,” Zipporah said. “At the end of each day, I went home knowing I had made a positive impact in my community.”
In 2016, more than 600 teens were hired through the Chamber’s summer employment programs. Many of the employment opportunities directly addressed the Flint water crisis, including water distribution, and adding capacity to agencies like the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, which is deeply involved in relief efforts for Flint residents.