Recent research suggests that unemployment among Black and Hispanic youth in Chicago is higher than anywhere else in America.
The academic and economic potential in inner city communities and students has been largely unrecognized and untapped.
In response, last summer Family Matters’ Boys 2 Men program (which works with young men ages 12-19), launched an employment initiative, Project RISE, in partnership with the Community Church of Wilmette. Six members of Boys 2 Men were placed in local businesses for a six-week job experience. The program encompassed leadership, financial literacy, resiliency skills training and employment readiness, and was enriched with mock interviews and resume support given by members of the church’s congregation.
This summer the program has expanded to include the Teen Girls – in all, 18 Family Matters teens participated. The youth were employed at:
The experience has been transformative for the teens involved. In addition to learning new skills and gaining work experience, the jobs have instilled a sense of pride in earning money. The employers are sending a strong message to the participants: we value you, we welcome you, and we want to work with you.
The program was a tremendous success:
- 100% of partners are interested in participating with the program again next summer.
- 100% of partners were encouraged by the progress the interns made over the summer.
- 100% of participants learned and developed new skills.
- 100% of participants believed they are better prepared for school and the world of work as a result of participating in the RISE Program.
- 100% of participants would like to return to the program next summer.
One of the unintended benefits of the program is that it became a poverty reduction strategy in the community as all of the students were able to support their families with their resources.
We are incredibly grateful to the Community Church of Wilmette for its generous support of this program, and to the local businesses that have welcomed Family Matters youth this summer.
If you would like to employ Family Matters teens at your business next summer, please contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.