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Enrollment in Detroit's youth summer jobs program officially opened Wednesday.

City officials and business leaders kicked off the beginning application process for the 2018 Grow Detroit’s Young Talent summer youth employment program during a breakfast event held at DTE Energy's headquarters.

“Over the past few years, the business, philanthropic and government communities have worked together to send an important message to our youth that we are committed to helping prepare them for their futures,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement Wednesday. “We are continuing that tradition this year and improving the program to provide many GDYT participants the opportunity for training beyond the six weeks of the program.”

The news comes about five days after officials announced the former head of Focus: Hope, Jason Lee, was joining the youth summer jobs program as its executive director.

Duggan launched the program in 2015 to promote and coordinate fundraising for local businesses that wanted to provide summer jobs for city youth.

In its first year, 5,600 Detroit youth ages 14-24 were employed through a six-week program. Last year, 8,127 kids were employed through the program. This year's goal is to employ more than 8,000 youth, a repeat of last year's numbers.

Duggan was joined at the kickoff breakfast by the program’s key supporters, including Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy Chairman and CEO; Cindy Pasky, Strategic Staffing Solutions President and CEO; Tonya Allen, Skillman Foundation President and CEO; and Nicole Sherard Freeman, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation CEO.

Pasky said summer jobs are important to building careers for young people's careers.

“That job means new skills, experiences, networks, and confidence," Pasky, who is also co-chair of the Mayor’s Workforce Development Board, said in a statement.  "Young people will come away with a better sense of the opportunities open to them, and they’ll begin to work toward achieving them.”

Anderson reiterated the mayor's call on Detroit-area businesses to join DTE Energy in providing funding and work experiences to the program.

“DTE Energy is committed to ensuring our youth are prepared to build a future for themselves and Detroit by offering meaningful work experiences,” he said in a statement.  “I encourage other business leaders to join us in supporting Grow Detroit’s Young Talent to improve the number and quality of summer jobs inside their businesses.” 

This year, the program has introduced a component that provides year-round career-specific instruction.

Under the pilot program, 400 students from five schools will work with career specialist partners and school staff.

The deadline for Detroit youth to apply for the program ends on March 17. To apply, log on to www.GYDT.org.

Chosen applicants will be contacted in April, they'll undergo job-readiness training and orientation in May-June and start work in early July, officials said.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

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