Pistons give $100,000 to fund jobs, training for youths

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment on Monday announced a $100,000 grant to help pay for summer jobs for city youth.

The funding is expected to bolster Mayor Mike Duggan’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program to provide 8,000 jobs.

The grant, provided by Pistons owner Tom Gores; Arn Tellem, vice chairman of the Palace Sports & Entertainment; and the Detroit Piston’s Foundation, will support jobs at the Palace, Detroit Police Athletic League and SAY Detroit.

Tellem, during a Monday morning news conference at the SAY Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park, said the organization’s goals aligned with the city program.

“We think it rounds out the whole picture of giving our youth all the opportunities possible to realize their potential and to inspire them, to show them that they can attain their goals and that nothing is impossible,” he said.

The contribution, Tellem said, should help provide 50-60 internships. The commitment is for one year, but he added the goal is to be involved with the program long-term. The organization, he said, has addressed critical areas for youth including education, after school programming and mentoring. Now, they add summer jobs.

Duggan on Monday stressed the city’s kids want to work and “we need to give them a chance.”

“Summer jobs have shaped many of our lives and it’s important for the young people (of Detroit) to have that opportunity,” he said. “The Pistons are embracing Detroit in a very powerful way.”

Luis Santiago, 24, of southwest Detroit, is among a handful of youths already selected for a summer job with the Pistons. He applied two weeks ago and starts in July.

“It’s surreal. I can’t believe it,” said Santiago, who one day hopes to have his own sporting events business. “It’s amazing they are giving us this opportunity to be a part of this. It’s great to see. It’s very humbling.”

The partnership will also include Pistons Days, which will allow youth to tour The Palace and receive career information on job opportunities in the sports and entertainment industries.

Gores, in a statement Monday, noted the importance of jobs for youngsters.

“By creating these summer opportunities, we’re also providing a safe environment for kids to earn money, continue learning and develop new skills,” he said.

In its second year, the six-week employment program targets youth 14-24 years old. Pay varies by age group. Youth ages 14-17 will earn $8 an hour, and those 18 and older will be paid $9.50 an hour, according to the city’s website.

Officials are working to expand the program from serving about 5,600 youth last year to about 8,000 this summer. Eligible young people are recruited through local schools, community organizations and the city’s workforce development system.

Duggan said the Pistons join a program that’s mainly funded through private donations including ones from DTE Energy, the Skillman Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg and the Ralph C. Wilson foundations.

Monday’s announcement comes after the Pistons in January committed $300,000 to the Detroit PAL in support of a new basketball program for youth in Metro Detroit.

The recreational league was created to run in partnership with the Detroit Recreation Center and other centers around Metro Detroit with the goal of providing more than 2,100 children with basketball instruction, mentoring and leadership development.


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