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A thousand students around Hartford have kicked off summer with a paid job

Through a partnership with Our Piece of The Pie, students Aleah Mattis, Nasir’e Shannon and Ariya Pearson (l-r) work as counselors and mentors at Connecticut Mission Camp at the House of Restoration Church in Hartford.
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
From left, students Aleah Mattis, Nasir’e Shannon and Ariya Pearson work as counselors and mentors through a partnership with Our Piece of the Pie at Connecticut Mission Camp at the House of Restoration Church in Hartford.

For six weeks, 1,100 young people in and around Hartford will gain professional skills in everything from the retail sector and governmental organizations to hospitals and law firms through the Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program.

“We strive to connect young people to worksites that are consistent with their learning goals and what they want to pursue as a career or as a profession,” said Alex Johnson, CEO of Capital Workforce Partners.

Johnson explains that the program is designed to meet the needs of young people based on their level of maturity and age through three tiers. The first tier caters to teens between 14 and 15, who gain training in career competencies while making $12 an hour. The second tier connects those 16 to 17 with different career options and opportunities through a partnership with the work-readiness organization Junior Achievement. In the third tier, young people 17 and older are placed in worksites, where they earn minimum wage.

“We’ve worked very hard to try to connect young people to those kinds of sites so they can really see what it looks like to be an attorney or a clinician and learn to exhibit those skills,” Johnson said.

The program employs students for up to 120 work hours and is made possible by a combination of state and city funding, along with private donors.

“Connecting young adults to job opportunities is essential to Bank of America’s commitment to workforce development and education in local communities,” said Joe Gianni, president of Bank of America Greater Hartford.

Johnson said demand is high. For this year’s program, he said, Capital Workforce Partners received over 3,000 applications but could only employ about a third.

“We hope to continue working with funders to bring more job opportunities for young people,” Johnson said.

Brenda León is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Brenda covers the Latino/a, Latinx community with an emphasis on wealth-based disparities in health, education and criminal justice.

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