An effort backed by Kansas City’s mayor and a coalition of nonprofit groups hopes to reduce violence impacting KCMO’s at-risk teens by expanding employment opportunities.
The “Working for Youth” formula announced Thursday: 500 paid summer internships to grow the city’s capacity to train, coach and employ young people — specifically focusing on 10 percent of Kansas City’s 5,000 youth, ages 14 to 18, living east of Troost.
“Our vision is for all area youth to have a chance at career exploration, job training and internship experience,” said Klassie Alcine, president of KC Common Good (KCCG), which is collaborating with Hire KC and Entrepreneurship KC for the Working for Youth initiative.
“Young people need the opportunity to thrive, and we’re the key to their success,” she added. “Together, we can address the root causes of violence to instill hope and ensure a successful future for every young person in the Kansas City region. There’s never been a more critical time to unite in support of the next generation.”
The 2021 summer program begins in early June, and both virtual and in-person opportunities are in high demand. Prospective interns will be granted the opportunity to expand their networks and career opportunities post-high school, gain valuable work experience that develop them personally and professionally, and earn a stipend for their summer experience.
Click here to register as a teen or employer participant, or to learn more about the program.
Watch Thursday’s announcement of the internship program, then keep reading.
The initiative unites sectors, from business to government, nonprofit to philanthropy, to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workforce and a stronger, safer and more prosperous community for all, according to Working for Youth organizers.
“This was a good day for KC,” said Kari Keefe, executive director at KC Social Innovation Center, which runs Hire KC. “We are a proud partner in this collective initiative to leverage opportunity equity to build up our city and drive down violence.”
Working For Youth is partnering with 20 youth organizations, and Community America Credit Union is expected to provide financial literacy training and bank accounts for program participants who need it. By eliminating the silos between employers and youth organizations, the initiative is creating an ecosystem that maximizes economic empowerment for 500 youth and bolsters workforce development through skills training and mentorship, organizers said.
Employers can get involved in two ways: Providing an internship opportunity for 14- to 18-year-olds or financially sponsoring an eight-week youth employment and mentorship opportunity at the cost of $2,000 per participant. Working For Youth has received funds from local foundations, including Health Forward Foundation, but more funds are needed to support the $800,000 initiative.
Working for Youth’s announcement comes after a year of record violence in Kansas City, acknowledged KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas.
“Every single victim has loved ones — parents, siblings, children, spouses, friends — whose lives are changed forever because of our violence epidemic. We cannot become numb to our violence problem or shrug our shoulders like this is too big of a problem to solve,” said Lucas. “Curbing violent crime requires more than just law enforcement-related solutions — and we all have a role to play.”
“We ask the business community to step up to provide summer internship opportunities for students who want and need them,” he continued. “I’m proud to collaborate with KC Common Good in our shared mission to create a safer community for all through hope and opportunity.”