Teen Summer Jobs Program Hopes for More Business Involvement

Summer break means summer jobs for many teens and young people in Connecticut.

A program in Hartford and East Hartford has spent the last decade helping students get their first jobs, even paying them for their hands-on experience. But now the program needs more businesses to get involved.

At 16 years old Cameryn Wilson of Hartford is about to be a junior in high school and has very big dreams.

“When I grow up I want to be a pediatric psychiatrist,” said Wilson.

She is taking the right steps by getting a summer job and credits the Community Renewal Team (CRT) Summer Youth Employment Program for helping her get the experience she needed, last year.

“It gave me more experience and more learning techniques and more skills, so I can be fit for this job that I am in now,” said Wilson.

Last summer she had her first job through the CRT program.

“It absolutely changes lives. This is a program that is designed for young people who are ages 14-21, both men and women. So, most of them are in high school and some are already out of school. They are here in Hartford, they are in East Hartford and it's a huge opportunity for them to get that first job and to then take those skills they are learning and apply it to other real life situations down the line,” said Jason Black, the CRT strategic communication specialist.

The young people first apply for the program, then CRT uses funding from a variety of sources, including Capitol Work Force Partners, the Hartford Foundation for public giving, the city of Hartford and state of Connecticut, to pay the teens and young adults to work at various businesses.

Exclusive Line’z in Hartford has participated for the last two years.

“We really love them, we welcome them in and it's our way of giving back to the community in a sense as well,” said Rodney Matthews, the business owner. “There are so many great kids out there and CRT just gets these kids that are really ready, they are not troubled kids, just kids that are ready for the work force.”

Last year Matthews had two teens work for him and he plans to hire more this summer. Each participant puts in 24-40 hours a week between July and August, for up to six weeks. They learn a trade, new skills and help the business without costing a thing.

“It's a great way to save money and just really get some talented help,” said Matthews.

While the CRT Youth Employment Program already has all 190 young people signed up for this year, they still need some employers from businesses in Hartford and in East Hartford.

“This year the program is almost double in terms of the number of participants. So we are actively, actively looking for additional employers who want to participate and it's really great because there is no cost to the employers to participate in the program,” said Black.

CRT manages the program and the payroll, they interview the young people and after a job fair, place them with a business.

“It gave me so many opportunities! So many new experiences,” said Wilson.

Now Wilson hopes new businesses can open their hearts and use the help.

“Be open to it, to welcome teens again to have a place to work and get paid for what they do and have a safe place,” said Wilson.

If you own a business in Hartford or East Hartford and are interested in participating in the program, you are asked to call 860-729-0327 or go to CRT’s website by clicking here.

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