Grand Rapids Community Foundation Opens Career Doors for Hundreds of Low-Income Youth

For the fourth summer in a row, Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s youth employment grants are making it possible for 350 local low-income youth to participate in soft skills training, job readiness preparation, and summer jobs. The Community Foundation awarded grants totaling $354,600 to 11 nonprofit organizations for their summer youth employment programs.

“These grants create a vibrant cycle of positive growth in Grand Rapids,” said Community Foundation Vice President of Programs, Marcia Rapp. “The values learned through this experience transfer into their classroom, career, and back into our community.”

At Comprenew Academy, an environmentally focused program for high risk inner-city youth, Union High School student Cearrea Lee, 15, recognizes the importance of community through tending Comprenew’s urban garden. “It’s a community effort. We all work together to make it happen and learn that it’s never too late to pitch in.” She has learned invaluable lessons that will be with her for a lifetime. “At Comprenew, they’ve taught us communication, effort and hard work. It’s preparing me for my future.”

Grantee organizations arrange a variety of job placements, in areas such as lawn care, office jobs, construction and baking. The programs not only give an opportunity for a summer paycheck, but also empower the youth through career advancement and personal growth in areas like professionalism, leadership and confidence. Program supervisors also serve as mentors, fostering this development and preparing the youth for success in school, careers, and community involvement.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation distributed the grants with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The grants, ranging from $7,000 to $58,000, were recommended by the Community Foundation’s African American Heritage Fund Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees.

Youth are benefiting from these grants through programs at the following grantee organizations: Bethany Christian Services, Comprenew, Grand Rapids Urban League, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, Jubilee Jobs, New City Neighbors, The Other Way Ministries, Project C.O.O.L., Steepletown Neighborhood Services, The Edge Urban Fellowship and Wedgwood Christian Services.