Grow Detroit Young Talent (GDYT) is a citywide summer jobs program that trains and employs young adults between the ages of 14 and 24 for 6 weeks in July and August. In 2016, over 8,000 local youth received employment.
For 2017, GDYT employed around 40 students at Cody High School. These students were tasked with picking up trash, landscaping, painting, and general maintenance around the school. My job, along with two other college-aged students, was to supervise them. The three of us were hired by Oakpointe Church (OPC). OPC, with corporations like GM and Quicken Loans, has a long-term partnership with Cody. OPC’s goals include improving the athletic department, sustaining after school programs, and raising funds for the school. The church has also given Cody High School students the opportunity to attend the weekly youth group, Sunday services, and church events by providing transportation.
Last summer, volunteers from OPC and faculty at Cody High School noticed that the GDYT students at Cody were not given enough direction to have a proper work experience.
The typical day looked like this:
Students would arrive at around 9:30am, sweep the halls halfheartedly for an hour or so, take a break for a half hour, eat lunch at around 11:00am for two hours, pick up litter for a half hour, then leave a half hour early.
I was hired to make sure the day looked more like this:
9:00am-9:20am: Students arrive no later than 9:05am. We spend going over our goals for the day, and ask students for any insight on what they want to see completed during the day.
9:20am-10:45am: Group A works outside. Some students are mowing the park across the street while others are weeding the basketball court. Group B works inside. Some students wash windows while others vacuum the floors.
10:45am-11:00am: Quick water and bathroom break.
11:00am-12:00pm: Students return to their tasks until lunch.
1:00pm-2:00pm: Work continues until the workday is finished at 2:00pm.
While the schedule still sometimes looked more like the first one I described than the second one, there were great improvements made overall, not only for the program at Cody as a whole, but for individual students. I had a tremendous experience and am excited to be able to share some of the stories.