Grant Brings Summer Jobs to Grand Rapids Youth

Grand Rapids Community Foundation is helping local youth gain valuable work experience for the third summer in a row with funds from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  A $900,000 grant was awarded to the Community Foundation to support the summer jobs program for the past two years, as well as this summer. The program, which began in 2011, is focused on helping low-income youth maintain, or increase, entry level job training and employment. Last year, nearly 300 young people were employed with summer jobs grant. This year, program organizers expect a slightly higher turnout of young people ages 14-24 to participate.

“Summer employment is not just about showing up and getting a paycheck anymore,” said Marica Rapp, Community Foundation’s Vice President of Programs. “Grand Rapids’ young people are ready to be challenged in the way they view work, education and future careers.”

 “With this grant, we are working to temporarily fill youth employment gaps and increase youth access to jobs and training,” said Rapp. “This grant provides young people with the opportunity to work while still being able to focus on education and positive life goals in order to be successful in their future employment and careers.”

With the Kellogg Foundation funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants ranging from $5,000 to $60,000 to 12 nonprofit organizations. Grant funds provided a leader training session for the participating organizations. Organizational leaders participated in discussions and activities about teamwork, communication, business etiquette, workplace ethics, goal setting and conflict resolution, as well as in the areas of managing change and taking initiative.

Justin Beene, Youth Services Department Manager at Bethany Christian Services said, “At Bethany Christian Services, we believe the work experience along with training will assist youth in finding long term employment, continued education and create a sense of purpose for [the youth] in the community.”

The Community Foundation distributed the 2013 grant funds to the following nonprofit organizations: Bethany Christian Services, City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Urban League. Hispanic Center of West Michigan, Jubilee Jobs, Kids Food Basket, New City Neighbors, Other Way Ministries, Project C. O.O. L., Steepletown Neighborhood Services, Wedgwood Christian Services, Inc. and Worldwide Christian Schools/Comprenew. Young people interested in summer employment should contact the nonprofits directly.

Summer Youth Employment Name Change

New this year, the summer jobs program will be referred to as ‘Youth Force GR.’ The program name change was created to give the summer jobs program a more powerful, youth-focused title the young people of Grand Rapids would feel proud to be a part of. Along with the name change a logo was created to inspire growth and motivation for the young people involved in Youth Force GR.

For an all-access look at what is happening on the summer job front through this grant, the Community Foundation has created a multi-media blog, “Youth Force GR” online at:

Youth Force GR can also be accessed via Twitter for live, to-the-minute updates by following:


Grand Rapids Community Foundation leads Kent County in making positive, sustainable change. With its endowment, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation supports local nonprofits, leads significant social change and helps donors achieve their philanthropic goals. For more information, please visit

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa.  For further information on the foundation, please visit