Flint mayor announces program for youth

Jacob Carah
Special to The Detroit News
Mayor Karen Weaver and Chelsea Clinton announced an initiative Sunday designed to provide resources and job opportunities for Flint youth

Flint— Mayor Karen Weaver announced an initiative Sunday designed to provide resources and job opportunities for Flint youth and give a boost to the local economy as well as tackle the ongoing water crisis.

The mayor made the announcement of Flint WaterWorks with Chelsea Clinton, in town for the Democratic debate in the city, and other community partners.

Weaver said the program, a public-private partnership, was designed to provide Flint youth ages 16-25 “with meaningful, paying jobs to distribute clean water, healthy food and nutrition information, and to provide assistance as Flint restores residential water services.” Flint has about 10,138 youths not in school and unemployed, said a release by Mott Community College, one of the program partners.

Clinton said the issue of the Flint water crisis was personal for her and her mother, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“... I think that it it should be personal for every American,” she said.

The initial program is funded by a $500,000 gift from J.B. Pritzker to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

Weaver lauded the Clintons’ interest in the water crisis.

“She put her team together with our team and she sent her daughter Chelsea Clinton to be here to be with us today, and this isn’t the first time she’s been here to see what’s been going on first hand,” Weaver said Sunday.

Clinton told Weaver there were many “standing with you and alongside but also looking to follow you, and we hope you will continue to share with us what more we can do to support you.”

Chelsea Clinton talks with those present at the event.

Weaver said the program isn’t just about water distribution.

“... It’s about getting healthy foods to families ... about getting young people jobs skills,” she said. Weaver said the program will help the Flint economy recover and give youth job skills to keep them in the city.

The initial program is to help 100 people “address a number of critical services needed to help Flint residents dealing with lead tainted water.” The services include water delivery, access to healthy food and nutrition information, “and making Flint’s water infrastructure safe again.”

Beverly Walker-Griffea, Mott Community College president, said the program will fit into the Mott’s existing structures for trade and job training for those who need a job or want to learn a trade.

Walker-Griffea said several programs already in place will help students succeed within Flint WaterWorks.

“We start teaching basic education skills for those who might not have finished high school diploma, we have in our workforce area programs where we teach those soft skills (about) how to get to work, how important it is to be on time, how to perform with great customer service,” she said.

Shaquia Miz, 19, said she thinks the program can benefit Flint youths.

“A lot of people still have (contaminated) water and I think everyone needs to get involved some way to fix the water crisis,” she said.

Marcus Herring, 20, a resident of Flint and Central Michigan student, said Flint WaterWorks will help many of his friends and neighbors.

“It’s giving youth the opportunity to learn and teach other people and hopefully restore Flint,” Herring said, adding that “it was really great when we had police officers and national guard passing out water, but they were getting paid for that and when you have people out of work who want to help, those jobs could help solve both problems.”