ANN ARBOR—Forty-five young adults from across Washtenaw County will begin summer work today at the University of Michigan. They are part of U-M's Poverty Solutions Summer Youth Employment Program, a partnership with Washtenaw County, Michigan Works! Southeast and U-M's Ginsberg Center.
The nine-week summer employment and mentorship program, Summer17, pairs local businesses with Washtenaw County young adults (ages 16-24) to provide on-the-job training that sets the stage for life-long careers, opens doors to new industries, and provides mentorship critical to building professional networks. It will run June 26-Aug. 25.
The U-M Summer Youth Employment Program is one of the first of its kind to be conducted by a major university, and is unique because it will measure the impact of youth employment programs and use research to inform best practices for future programs, says Julia Weinert, assistant director of Poverty Solutions.
"As an anchor institution in our community, the University of Michigan is well-positioned to partner on programs that contribute to the economic mobility of residents in Washtenaw County," she said. "The Summer Youth Employment Program is a great example of a beneficial partnership between the Washtenaw County community and the University of Michigan, providing a runway to future job and academic success for young adults."
The goal is to measure outcomes such as youth employee satisfaction, high-school attainment, permanent employment outcomes, college or vocational training enrollment, and the changes in attitudes of youth employee supervisors to inform youth jobs programs developed in other communities.
Research suggests that a strong education component is among the best practices, and U-M's program will include training and enrichment activities every Friday on topics such as applying to college and managing money. These weekly sessions are led by success coaches—recent U-M graduates who will serve as mentors and engage participants in weekly enrichment activities, focusing on skills ranging from effective communication to conflict management resolution.
Summer17 was started by Michigan Works! Southeast and Washtenaw County in 2016, with 26 businesses and 50 youth participating in the program. This summer, U-M is coming on board as an employer, pairing youth with faculty and staff to help them gain work experience, mentorship and life-skills training.
Youth have been placed in a variety of jobs across the scope of the U-M enterprise, to allow understanding of the impact of the nature of the work on outcomes. Through this partnership, the Summer17 program has doubled the number of jobs available to youth.
"We are excited about having local young people work with staff and faculty across campus who have committed to provide great work experiences and mentoring," said Mary Jo Callan, director of the U-M Edward Ginsberg Center.
"Experiences like Summer17 are invaluable both for improving the employment outlook for youth and for the success of our overall local economy," said Andrea Plevek, director of the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development. "Through Summer17, young adults gain critical skills and experiences that contribute to the quality of Washtenaw County's workforce—supporting local businesses and emerging industries."
Washtenaw County launched the Summer17 applications in April, inviting employers and interested youth to apply via the Summer17 website.