Summer job program gets another year

Youth Sports and Recreation Commission president Randy McNeil said, "Having just implemented our Champions for Youth campaign to raise funds for the summer youth employment program, we are grateful that The Skillman Foundation has given us the grant for the transition year. In light of the recent violence across our city, there is an urgent need to provide work programs for older teens this summer. We are confident that local businesses and individuals will support our fund-raising campaign." To date, contributions have come from the Detroit Automobile Dealers Association, and Greektown Casino.

The Work Alternatives for Youth program was created in 1996, in response to the city's cut of federal funds for summer youth employment programs. The program provides funds to organizations to provide work experience and employability skills training for youth, ages 14-17, during the summer.

Since its inception, more than 10,000 youth have participated in the Work Alternatives for Youth program. During the past eight years, The Skillman Foundation has provided more than $7.5 million towards the program to demonstrate how local businesses and organizations can play a role in helping urban youth to prepare for employment in the city.

McNeil explained that the recently launched Champions for Youth Campaign extends beyond fund raising, and that all City Council members including Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, members of the Youth Sports and Recreation's Board of Commissioners, the Detroit Workforce Development Board, and other local businesses are working on ways to continue providing summer work opportunities for urban youth. Mildred Gaddis, morning host for WCHB-AM, has agreed to host a Champions for Youth Radio-Thon on Tuesday, May 25, 2004, 6-10 a.m., at Sweet Georgia Brown's in downtown Detroit.

Following a review of the work of the Commission two years ago, McNeil said the Commission has identified a new direction, shifting from direct funding of youth sports and recreation programs to building collaboration and networks among program providers in order to achieve quality standards, sustainable funding, and the development of youth serving programs in locations where there is most need.

Launched by The Skillman Foundation in 1995, the objective of the Youth Sports and Recreation Commission is to coordinate, advocate and support quality after-school and recreational programs for children and youth in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.