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$500K in grants to help place youths in summer jobs

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

The Skillman Foundation is awarding $500,000 in grants to two organizations to support a citywide summer youth employment initiative.


Grow Detroit's Young Talent is a collaborative initiative with national and local organizations, including, for the first time, the city of Detroit. It places Detroit youths in six-week summer jobs.

A $400,000 grant to City Connect Detroit will support that nonprofit to administer the program, provide training to youth, secure job placements and conduct evaluations.

The second grant is $100,000 to the Philadelphia Youth Network, which brought to Detroit a state-of-the-art employment portal first developed in Philadelphia.

The online portal, directed and run by City Connect, allows both employers and employees to sign up for the program in one place, uses an algorithm to match up the young people with the employer with the right fit and provides support for evaluations and payroll services.

"A summer job is so much more than a paycheck for young people," said Kristen McDonald, vice president of program and policy at Skillman. "It's their connection to future employability, their introduction to the norms of the working world, and their chance to develop skills and discover talents they otherwise won't know they have."

At the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference, Mayor Mike Duggan set a goal of finding employment for 5,000 youths ages 14 to 24. He pledged the city will pay half of the $2,000 cost per youth for up to 5,000 employed young people.

The program placed 1,897 Detroit youths in paid summer work experiences during the summer and fall of 2014. As of Wednesday, officials said only 1,040 positions remained for this summer.

"We have space and a need for other Detroit-area businesses to take advantage of this program," said Dierk Hall, president and CEO of City Connect.

Through the program, employers get employer training, work readiness training for their youths, an employee toolkit, payroll assistance and more.

Employers who want to hire a youth can call (313) 967-5641 or find more information at

Other program supporters are: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., Chase Bank, DTE Foundation, the Majorie S. Fisher Fund and Bank of America.