City, businesses and organizations launch youth employment program

Public-private partnership offers young people new skills, career exploration, professional connections

Sharing on behalf of the City of Grand Rapids. Original release can be found here.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 16, 2020 – The City of Grand Rapids – in partnership with dozens of local businesses and organizations – today announced a youth employment program aimed at providing jobs for 1,000 young people.

The initiative – GRow1000: Employing 1000 GR youth for a brighter tomorrow – is designed for Grand Rapids residents ages 15 to 21. The city is home to more than 9,000 residents in this age group.

GRow1000 is a collaborative effort between the City of Grand Rapids and local businesses and organizations. Participating businesses and organizations, which includes the City, will offer young people 120-hour work experiences over six weeks starting July 13. Youth participants will earn $10 an hour for 20 hours each week. They will have the opportunity to earn up to $1,500 during the program, which goes through Aug. 21.

To participate, individuals must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be between 15 and 21 years old as of July 22
  • Live in the city of Grand Rapids
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S.

The City will prioritize youth applicants from the 49503, 49507, 49508 and 49509 ZIP codes. These areas have been most heavily impacted by disproportionate outcomes, including COVID-19.

“We are committed to ensuring that all of our young people have access to opportunities,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “This is an important opportunity for us to come together in true West Michigan fashion and respond to a critical need through a public-private partnership.

“We are grateful for our partners as we work together to give our community’s youth exposure and access to employment opportunities, practical knowledge and important connections that can prepare them for their future.”

Youth may apply through June 29 HERE. Required paid training begins June 29 and includes program orientation and topics such as workplace etiquette and safety and dressing for success. Transportation options are being developed.

The City is working closely with Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Community College, other school systems that serve city youth and community organizations to recruit young people for this employment program. The City is serving as the employer of record and interested businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in one of two ways:

  • Sponsor youth at $1,500 each to be placed in various businesses and organizations throughout the city
  • Provide youth with employment opportunities at their respective business or organization and pay their stipend to the City for the work. Employment may continue upon completion of the program based on mutual agreement.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Spectrum Health and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) are among the first to commit to the program, both choosing to host participants at their respective organizations.

Spectrum Health, the area’s largest employer, hopes to inspire more youth to serve others.

“We are excited to partner with the City of Grand Rapid on this program. It will give our youth the opportunity to learn new skills and contribute to meaningful work in achieving our mission of improving health, inspiring hope and saving lives,” said Tina Freese Decker, Spectrum Health’s president and CEO. “By providing mentoring and educational opportunities, we hope to encourage them to pursue a career in health care and engage in lifelong learning and serving others.”

The fact that roughly 73% of young people in Grand Rapids younger than 18 are persons of color presents a unique opportunity for participating businesses and organizations, Washington said.

“Spectrum’s commitment and that of all of our partner organizations means they are doing their part to help diversify our community’s workforce now and in the future,” he said.

Tim Kelly, president and CEO of DGRI, agreed.

“These jobs will not only help better downtown Grand Rapids but will also help youth in our city gain important skills to succeed in the future,” Kelly said. “At DGRI, we are committed to providing opportunities for youth and diversifying the downtown workforce. That is why we are proud to partner with the City of Grand Rapids on this important initiative.”

The other businesses, organizations and individuals that have committed to GRow1000 to date are:

  • Amway Corp.
  • Autocam Medical
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Brian Harris
  • Cascade Engineering
  • Crystal Flash
  • CWD Real Estate Investment
  • DeVos Foundation
  • Feyen Zylstra
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Huntington Bank
  • JD Loeks
  • Jireh Metal Products
  • Kent County
  • Meijer
  • Metro Health
  • Mixed Staffing & Recruiting
  • OST
  • PNC Bank
  • Rockford Construction
  • SeyferthPR
  • Steelcase
  • Trillium Investments
  • Warner Norcross + Judd
  • Wege Foundation
  • Windquest
  • Wolverine Worldwide

Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,600 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 150 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.