Tacoma, Pierce County businesses needed for youth summer job program

Tacoma News TribuneMarch 26, 2014 

Scott Jones, 17, right, removes blackberry plants and other invasive species along with Jacob Meikle, 17, left, on city of Tacoma land in July 2013. The youth are participating the city's summer jobs program that gives students work experience and high school credit. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland led the program to better prepare students for the workforce before graduation, in combination with Tacoma Schools' goal to increase graduation rates.

JANET JENSEN — The News Tribune file photo

Local business owners, Tacoma youth need you.

Summer Jobs 253 is now accepting applications from businesses who will host high school juniors or seniors. Businesses contribute $500 per student and time for supervisor training, and the jobs program does the rest, including paying students minimum wage for 24 hours of training and up to 96 hours of work.

"This is an opportunity for employers to expand organizational capacity and invest in community workforce development at a very low cost," said Kurt Miller, director of the REACH Center, in a news release.

REACH (Resources for Education and Career Help), the City of Tacoma, WorkForce Central and the Tacoma Public Schools have organized Summer Jobs 253 with about $110,000 in monetary funding, plus more in in-kind support. Their goal is to reach $265,000, including employer contributions, to serve 105 students, said assistant city manager Tansy Hayward.

The program gives students work experience, as well as training in work readiness, workplace ethics and financial literacy. A pilot program last summer was completed by 46 students.

Summer Jobs 253 is open to high school juniors or seniors in the Tacoma Public Schools, as well as students attending community colleges as part of their high school programs. In addition to earning a wage, students can earn up to two credits toward graduation.

Both businesses and students must pass an application process. Each work site will be certified by the school district, and supervisors will be trained on how to manage student employees. Students must apply and write an essay, and those who are at risk of not finishing school or becoming involved with gangs will be given priority, a city spokeswoman said.

Businesses aren't required to be located within the City of Tacoma to be considered, Hayward said. 

The deadline for applications is May 1. Go to summerjobs253.com for applications and more information.

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