Grants in Action

Hi there, I am Lori Dykstra, the summer PR & Marketing intern here at Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Welcome to “Our Community Matters,” our new blog! We reconfigured this page so that various staff and community members can keep you updated on our latest news and projects. You will also get to hear from our grantee organizations and the work they do.

I'll start with sharing about our summer youth employment program, which is well underway for its fourth summer. The Community Foundation funds this program with a grant given by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). “Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.” Through this grant, 11 nonprofit organizations are providing local low-income youth with soft skills and job-readiness training, summer jobs, and mentorship.

In the New York Times article entitled, “If a Teenager Lands a Summer Job, the Value is Lasting,” the executive officer of an outplacement company said, “A lot of kids are missing out by not learning what working is. They’re also missing the process of job hunting. Part of the experience is developing persistence and the all-important skills of shaking hands, answering questions clearly and looking someone in the eye.”

The article also referenced a study by the Brookings Institution, which found that there should be more programs with “work-based learning, where students learn technical, academic and employability skills in a real work environment, […] as well as classes that teach teenagers skills like interviewing and résumé writing.”

These are exactly the areas where our summer jobs program comes in. It is the opportunity for about 350 young adults from the Grand Rapids area to get this experience and training. I have the pleasure of seeing it happen and sharing it with you!

Valuable lessons to learn, inspiring people to meet and fascinating stories to tell all await me on the road ahead. Please stay tuned to catch a glimpse of our grants in action and their lasting impact on our youth and community!