Youth Action Project Paid Training for Youth
By Dianne Anderson
Tens of millions of workers quit their jobs in a mass exodus last year which has now spawned hiring signs on just about every corner.
While jobs may not seem too hard to find lately, employers are still a little picky about the essentials all workers should know, like showing up on time, willing to work. A well-polished resume to get ahead of the competition also helps.
“We try to cast a wide net to refer out to young people that might benefit from our services and to make sure that they are aware of the spectrum of what’s available to them,” said Tremaine Mitchell, CEO of Youth Action Project.
As her youth wind their way through the program, she said they are preparing young people in several ways, mainly by giving exposure to mentors, introducing places to network, and ways to weigh their options in potential careers.
The outreach is all part of soft skills training that youth can get at Youth Action Partnership where they get paid while they learn.
Employers are usually willing to teach the new hires the technical skills they need, but the workers need to master the basics.
“They’ll teach you how to do the job, but the things they don’t want to teach are soft skills. We focus on foundational elements, how to communicate professionally, verbally and in writing. We’re helping young people address the barriers by providing support services,” she said.
YAP has established many strong partnerships with local businesses and a variety of employers over the years. They also get their youth prepared with mock interviews and give them something nice to wear for a good first impression.
“We’re able to place our young people there for paid work experience, they get supervision and training and mentorship of the professionals in these different industries,” she said.
Annually, the program provides paid work experience for about 70 young people. Beyond that, YAP also provides after-school programs and activities.
They work with youth in several capacities, including Americorps members, which are mostly college students or recent graduates, that are paid to staff YAP after school high school programs. There, the students get professional skills for their resumes and receive work experience.
Mitchell was also involved in both sides of the IE Black Equity Fund, which announced awards of $740,000 to 16 nonprofit groups in the first round of grants earlier this year. She sat on the steering committee to help shape the RFP and application process to help get funding out to meet the needs of the Black community.
She said one target was to make funding possible for some organizations that may not be traditionally in line for funding or set up to be eligible to receive larger grants.
On the other side of the process, she also applied to receive a grant as YAP has been in direct service for many years, and focused on addressing the root of systemic issues.
“It’s not just providing direct services to those that need it, but we are trying to prevent future generations from experiencing some of the same challenges, specifically in our field in academic and youth workforce preparation,” she said.
YAP also works with the justice-involved youth, whether they are currently incarcerated or juvenile detention center or on probation. Through their “opportunity youth” program, they help those who left school before getting a degree, along with help for age 16-24 years that are disconnected and looking to get back into the world of work and education.
At last glance, there were still a massive amount of job openings that need to be filled. Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the number of job openings nationwide was little changed at 10.9 million at last count, which was on the last business day of December.
Mitchell said they are targeting outreach to get more participants into the program, and working with several high schools and counselors to identify foster youth, or homeless youth, or others with additional services and workforce dollars.
“We try to reinforce the big picture with an end goal in mind. Even if you are in logistics, you can work your way up to management, human resources, finance, or other departments,” she said. “We’re making sure our young people are aware of those opportunities.”
For more information, see https://youthactionproject.org/ or call 909-723-1500
To donate to the IE Black Equity Fund, visit www.iegives.org/ieblackequityfund.