United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley is once again employing 50 students this summer through Centerboard’s Lynn Youth Summer Employment Program. This is the third year that United Way has supported this program, which last year saw students launching the “Clean Team” initiative to energize Lynn through a variety of revitalization projects. It was so successful, that it continued as a volunteer effort throughout the rest of the summer and to mid-October with the four Lynn High School volunteer groups.
The Summer Employment Program is part of a concentrated and strategic investment in Lynn by United Way, which began last year during United Way’s Community by Community initiative. During a series of Community Conversations as well as a Lynn Youth Survey conducted in 2011, residents and students alike emphasized that reducing the dropout rate and providing more opportunities for youth, including summer jobs, was a major priority.
“We listened to the community and heard that a lack of summer opportunities was a serious concern. We were so proud and impressed with the work of these young people last summer, and we’re thrilled to once again support the summer jobs program at Centerboard,” said Michael Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
As part of the grant, students not only gain employment opportunities that give back to their community, but must participate in weekly “Practical Money” classes to teach them how to efficiently manage money. The students spend four days per week at their respective work sites and on Thursday, everyone gathers at Centerboard to take classes in financial literacy. The teens will also devote 3 hours per week to “Giving Back” events and opportunities, dedicating that portion of their day to addressing a perceived need in the city of Lynn.
“For many of these students, this is the first money they have ever made,” said Mark DeJoie, executive director of Centerboard. “We wanted to teach them how to manage it. Last year, these classes were one the best things about the whole program and the students really got a lot out of them.”
Other investments in Lynn this summer include $85,000 from United Way’s Summer Learning Collaborative, which invests in summer learning and literacy programs and coaching at 4 Lynn agencies.