ARPA Allocations Keep Valuable Youth Employment Programs Alive
Thanks to the City of Madison’s ARPA allocation, we are supporting the extension of youth employment and training programs and internships into the fall. Eleven community based organizations received funding to support 23 different programs for youth ages 14 – 21. These programs provide over 550 paid learning opportunities for youth to work, earn and learn.
Over the summer many programs pivoted to provide a blend of in-person and virtual programing to stay connected with their participants. Programs with the ability to offer much needed face- to- face contact through programming, did so in a safe and supportive environment. Each program dealt with the work in different ways, but every program stepped up and went beyond what was asked of them in difficult and changing working conditions due to the pandemic.
This summer the youth involved in these programs received training and a pay check, could sign up for work based school credit in partnership with MMSD, opened a bank account and received financial empowerment education in partnership with Summit Credit Union all while talking with staff about their future plans.
Youth deserve quality programs run by people they can build trusting relationships with and can relate to. This is particularly important now, given all the disruption to education and employment from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s what some of the City-supported youth employment programs had to say about this summer’s programming:
“The Program for Entrepreneurial and Agricultural Training (PEAT) is an opportunity for Madison youth to learn about entrepreneurial skill-building, food systems, and the intricacies around the intersection of racist historical and systemic practices in urban agriculture. Students work up to 20 hours per week in this 8-week program that is run in partnership between Common Wealth Development and Neighborhood Food Solutions. Teens learn how to grow, maintain, and harvest produce while simultaneously focusing on empowering youth with the foundational skills necessary for success in any path that they choose for their future through hands-on experiences on a local farm.”
Goodman TEENWorks Program
“Youth in the Goodman TEENWorks program worked many different opportunities this summer, all with the goal of growing employment and life skills in a supported environment. Teens supported the important work of the Goodman Center food pantry and improved their culinary skills in our program food kitchens making delicious and nutritious meals for our participants. The return of events to The Goodman Center allowed teens to work catering events preparing food and practice their customer service skills with customers. Teens worked with the Fit Youth Initiative to run healthy activities for our younger participants including canoeing and volleyball camps. Our youth evaluation teens worked with the Healthy Kids Initiative to administer surveys to support youth voice. A group of teens interned with BCycle and Dreambikes to learn to service electric and standard bicycles. In addition to all this amazing work, 60 teens participated in our High School Seed to Table Summer program which included work on financial literacy, resume writing, interview skills, and appropriate workplace behavior.”
“Briarpatch and Rooted have collaborated for another successful COVID era Summer Youth Employment Opportunity at the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center Community Garden. With an eye on safety (a vital job skill during the pandemic), 12 Madison youth have been employed throughout the summer of 2021. They have performed all manner of garden related job duties including cultivating, weeding, watering, and harvesting produce. They have also had the opportunity to take advantage of Summit Credit Union’s Financial Empowerment series. A number of the youth will be able to continue working after school starts. This collaboration was made possible in part with funds provided by the City of Madison”.
“Our These Teens Mean Busine$$ Internship program pairs our experienced teen entrepreneurs with local entrepreneurs. As a result, our teens have further developed professional aptitude and strengthened personal character, while contributing to our rich entrepreneurial ecosystem. Earning wages, prior learning college credits, MMSD high school credits, and a digital learning badge, our teen interns gain a valuable jump start on their futures.”
Bayview Giving Garden
"Youth Employment completely reinvigorated Bayview's teen programs after a very difficult year. Once our Community Arts Crew and Giving Garden programs started back up, regular attendance from teens in our community more than doubled. They're showing up because their time is being valued, new skills are being developed, and it’s finally possible to have safe and meaningful interactions with their peers."
Who better to speak about the importance of our programming than the teens themselves? They shared the following through their end of summer reflections:
- "No matter where I'm working while I'm at Goodman, I try my best to do what I can and learn as much as possible. I'm glad and proud of the things I have done so far."
- "My self-set goal for work is to do my best at all times, have fun, and do what is needed to me. I have grown since I started working here, I feel more like myself now."
- "I made a whole lot of new friends. I also met new teachers and made new relationships with people I didn't think I would ever talk to. I learned how to socialize and interact with people and feel more comfortable around people."
- "My accomplishment was giving my best effort in all of my work. This can be hard because I don't like some of the activities that we do. I overcame this by thinking about how all of this is for a reason."
- "For the past seven years in Youth Employment, it has been a great experience. Working doesn't feel stressful because with friends there, the time passes quickly."
- "I have really enjoyed working in the gardens and the field trips were fun"
- "The program helped me a lot in terms of developing my work ethic and reconnecting my old friendships from before the COVID-19 pandemic. I was happy to continue to do things with my own hands, go outside, and socialize. I'm thankful for the program to present me this opportunity"
- "Something I enjoyed was going on field trips with the rest of the Giving Garden crew"
- "Youth employment is a nice preview of future jobs and it rewards you for your work"
These teens worked hard this summer on their employment skills and used their time to reestablish connections that have been difficult to maintain during COVID. I’m grateful the Common Council unanimously approved the ARPA allocations I put forward so that we could continue this invaluable programming and employment without a gap. Thank you to the organizations that took them on and to the teens who challenged themselves to prepare for bright futures ahead.