TeenWorks is a six-week summer employment program that gives eligible Marion County students a paid job, breakfast and lunch and transportation to their work site. However, the program provides more than just a job. It’s also a unique opportunity for professional development.
Michael James, Counselor at Key Learning Community, used to work for TeenWorks. He explained that the morning part of the TeenWorks program work day involves work at community partner sites like Gleaners, Indy Urban Acres or IU Health.
James said the great thing about the program is that it “eliminates excuses. It provides lunch, transportation and wardrobe in the form of a program T-shirt for each day.” TeenWorks removes the barriers for students to participate and rewards them with not just a paycheck, but career preparation and a sense of community responsibility.
The afternoon of each day is spent on career skills like resume building, conflict mediation and interview preparation. Lisa K., one Key Learning student who participated in the program in 2014 and is returning in 2015, said, “Before I got hired with TeenWorks, I was very quiet, and would usually keep to myself. Working for this program, I was able to learn how to cooperate with others and be an effective contributor in a group setting of my peers. This has really helped me as it relates to many group projects that I have had to complete this school year.”
Students also take part in an unpaid service day with one of the community partners during the course of the program. “This teaches them to give back, which is the heart of service,” James said.
Student Support Specialist at TeenWorks Akilah Seabrook said TeenWorks is present “in all of the IPS designated high schools.” She also shared that “four of Broad Ripple High School’s top ten students are TeenWorks teens,” so the self-discipline and confidence the program models is clearly hitting home with participants.
TeenWorks also now extends into the school year with TeenWorks 360, which supports students who have completed the summer program with workshops on FAFSA, budget and tax preparation; community service opportunities; and college visits.
TeenWorks keeps growing. This year 270 students will participate. We’re happy to know this program is going to provide a great bridge of employment, enrichment and service for so many IPS students this summer!