Duggan pushes for summer jobs for Detroit’s youths

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan on Tuesday asked businesses to join city efforts to place 5,000 youths in summer jobs this year.

Duggan made the request at a breakfast event for Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, a citywide program that partners with existing organizations to place young adults in summer jobs.

Duggan unveiled the program last spring at the Mackinac Policy Conference. This will be its first year placing youths.

Several organizations on Tuesday indicated by a show of hands their interest in partnering with the program, which aims to provide temporary jobs this summer to more than 5,000 youths, ages 14 to 24.

The jobs will last from July 6 to Aug. 28.

The program was created to unite existing jobs programs in the city, Duggan said.

“We were not finding a way a young person in Detroit could sort through all these different groups,” he said.

Eligible students are recruited through the schools, community organizations and the city’s workforce development system. The program matches youths with employers based on interest, ability and accessibility.

“This is something that’s long overdue and obviously needed,” said former Mayor Dave Bing, who attended the event.

Bing also spoke about the program’s similarity to the Bing Youth Institute, which he created last year to match young black men with adult, male mentors in Detroit.

He said he started the program after asking young men what they wanted to do when they were older, and 90 percent chose careers in the sports or entertainment industries.

“These young men need to see people who look like them who are doing something other than playing basketball or playing football or rapping,” he said.

The city will match half of the $2,000 it costs to employ a youth through the jobs program, Duggan said. Students ages 14 to 17 will earn $7.50/hour while those older than 18 years old will earn $8.15/hour. They typically will work 20 hours a week, according to the program.

Participants also are given free access to the city’s bus system for transportation to and from their job sites.

The students this year won’t necessarily interview for their placements, but that’s a goal for the program’s future, Duggan said.

“When this program is really successful, you get to the point where the kids are actually interviewing for the jobs,” he said. “A year from now, I’d like us to (use) an interview process.”

Duggan stressed the lasting impact of summer jobs for teens, saying he hired young adults during his first summer as CEO of the Detroit Medical Center.

“You learn things that last the rest of your life,” he said. “There are kids today who are doctors, who started as a junior in high school (working at DMC),” he said.

Those involved with the program said the goal is to get young adults thinking about — and prepared for — their future.

“This is an important day for us,” said Tonya Allen, CEO of the Skillman Foundation, who attended the event. “It’s a day that we come celebrate that we can come together and make sure that young people are put on a path toward prosperity.”


Getting involved

■Businesses or young adults who would like to get involved can go to www.gdyt.org.