June 22, 2022

Weekly Insights: Gifford Youth Achievement Center

Approximately 5.5% of youth (ages 16-19) are neither working nor in school. Gifford Youth Achievement Center (GYAC) helps keep youth connected to our community by inspiring them to discover untapped talents and possibilities through educational, cultural, and social opportunities. GYAC's new Youth Employability Program is one example of how the organization prepares students for success.

Gifford Youth Achievement Center kicked off the summer work component of its Youth Employability Program (YEP) program on June 6, 2022. This program places students in work assignments based on their career interests.

In the first two weeks, sixteen of the 24 YEP students started their paid work assignment, while the remaining eight start between June 20-27th. Of the twenty-four students, eighteen are age 15 and younger, so the work assignments are first jobs for most of them.

Students are on their assignment 4 hours a day and depending on their age, earn $13.00 to $16.00 per hour. The work assignments match the individual student’s career interest. Examples of the selected worksites include Masteller, Moler & Taylor, Inc. (engineering); Treasure Coast Community Health (nursing); Quail Valley River Club (culinary); Gould, Cooksey, and Fennell law firm (law field); Ironside Press (graphic design); and Damasco Innovations (computer and program development).

Early feedback about the program has been positive. Isabelle, a 14-year-old at Gould, Cooksey, and Fennell, states, “I’m being kept busy but not too overly busy where it is too much. The staff is nice. I have already learned why companies need certain type of laws.”

At Ironside Press, Leo, age 15, is being exposed to the video and design departments. “Leo had a great first day today,” Ironside Project Manager Laurel Arendell stated. After his first week, she commented, “Leo has been a pleasure to work with,” and noted that he had exceeded expectations in his attendance/punctuality, cooperation with others, and response to supervision.

Students in GYAC’s Youth Employability Program take a photo with Dr. Willie Otis Cobb, Jr., who spoke to them on June 17, 2022, at their weekly Friday Success Rally, where they discuss their worksite experiences, share work successes and challenges, and hear motivational messages from guest speakers, and enrichment activities.

In May 2022, GYAC received an Impact 100 grant which is helping support the Youth Employability Program.

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