Even a polar vortex could not prevent mayor Mike Duggan, business and community leaders, employers, philanthropic organizations, and Detroit youth from convening at DTE Energy headquarters Thursday morning to officially launch the application period for Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) 2019, the city’s summer youth employment program.
Now in its 5th year, GDYT is the lead coordinator, fundraiser and marketer for the city’s efforts to provide summer employment opportunities for youth ages 14-24. Prior to GDYT, approximately 2,500 Detroit youth would have summer jobs each year through a series of smaller independent programs. In 2018, 8,210 youth were employed at 669 work sites through 233 employers for six weeks.
Youth looking for summer employment and organizations interested in participating should go to www.GDYT.org through March 15th to complete the application. Employers interested in becoming a sponsor or providing summer work experiences for Detroit youth may register at the GDYT website also.
“We have to keep our talent in the city,” said Mayor Duggan. “I talk to too many Detroiters in their 20s that said, ‘coming up in Detroit, my goal was to get out.’ We need to have a situation where they’re saying, ‘my goal is to stay here and make it better.’ And I think GDTY is a big part in saying to our young people that the community here values you, supports your career, and wants you to stay.”
Mayor Duggan was joined at the kickoff breakfast at DTE Energy by many of the program’s key supporters and partners, including Dave Meador, DTE Energy Vice Chairman and Chief Administrative Officer; September Hargrove, VP Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase; Faye Nelson, Michigan Director for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Kylee Mitchell Wells, Executive Director of Ballmer Group; and Nicole Sherard-Freeman, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) President and CEO.
“DTE continues to increase participation in Grow Detroit’s Young Talent because young people who have real-world work experience grow into adults with more career options. That’s especially important for the energy industry, where 50 percent of employees are eligible to retire in the next five years,” said Meador. “DTE and the DTE Energy Foundation have provided more than 3,000 youth with meaningful work experiences. Our summer interns also make our company better, bringing new ideas and energy. I strongly encourage fellow business leaders to participate in the program; together we can provide even more opportunities for youth in Detroit.”
The city of Detroit’s summer youth employment program also kicked off its fifth year with a $150,000 boost from the Marjorie Fisher Fund, which is a “dollar-for-dollar” matching grant from new individuals, small businesses, and community supporters.
“We’re starting to give our young Detroiters the type of opportunities they expect,” Duggan added. “It wasn’t something that city government could have done by ourselves. I thank all the folks who have contributed so significantly along the way.”
The importance of having a summer job was highlighted by Sherard-Freeman.
“We are now seeing sustained growth in opportunity in Detroit, with increases in economic investment and decreases in unemployment” she said. “In order for those positives to be further sustained, we need the next generation of Detroit talent to be ready to take those opportunities. Having a summer job and being able to demonstrate experience is a key step to advancing on a career path along with showing an employer that you have the skills and the work ethic they need.”
Benefits for participating in GDYT extends beyond just a paycheck. A study concluded GDYT is improving educational outcomes for Detroit’s youth and the program will introduce or enhance several initiatives for the 2019 GDYT program, including Increasing the focus on financial literacy, a major issue in a city that has fewer bank accounts per capita than any other major U.S. city. Tyrone Bean said ever since he joined GDYT at age 14, his experience has been amazing.
“They taught me how to save money, budget, and the importance of a bank account,” said Bean. “Ever since I learned that, I’ve saved my money, bought a Mac Book, and to this day, I’m still making revenue off the decision I made in 2015.”
April, applicant contact, and work-readiness training sessions continue. In May, the start of employer match and interview process begins, and job-readiness training and orientation sessions start in June. July 8, work experience begins for Detroit’s youth.
This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle.