Several local organizations will join forces this summer to provide employment opportunities and training for local LGBT youth.
About 40 area youth will have the chance to participate in a six-week internship program, organized by The Attic Youth Center, The Youth Health Empowerment Project at Philadelphia FIGHT, The COLOURS Organization Inc., the Mazzoni Center, Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative and Foyer of Philadelphia.
The venture is possible through a grant from the Philadelphia Youth Network, which receives funding from the Workforce Investment Act for such projects.
Within the next two months, each of the six organizations will recruit a handful of youth participants — who will have to meet certain WIA eligibility requirements — and, based on their career goals and the requirements of the positions, match them with the more-than 40 area employers who’ve expressed interest in the program.
Each job site will provide a mentor for the youth, who will work for 16 hours a week over four days, making $7.25 per hour. The program will run July 6-Aug. 14.
Carrie Jacobs, executive director of The Attic, said the program will enable the youth to gain hands-on experience in fields that interest them and further develop not only their skills, but also their career objectives.
“We have lots and lots of sites, and it’s a very diverse group, so this will give our youth plenty of opportunity to be matched with their interests so they can start working toward their goals,” she said.
The sites represent an array of industries, but Jacobs said the organizers ensured that all youth would be placed in positions at LGBT-friendly organizations, with potential employers like the Society Hill Veterinarian Hospital, Drexel School of Public Health, the Mural Arts Program, the National Constitution Center, Philly Car Share, Spruce Street Video and PGN.
The youth will also attend weekly four-hour career-readiness training at the organization that enrolled them in the program. Jacobs said the six agencies are currently creating a curriculum that all organizations will implement, which will address such topics as interviewing skills, workplace etiquette and being openly gay in the workplace.
Nurit Shein, executive director of the Mazzoni Center, said the organizers as well as the mentors at the work sites will be committed to providing valuable guidance to the youth participants.
“This will give them some role models within our own community to show them what the business community looks like and provide support and mentorship for them,” Shein said. “This is truly very, very encouraging.”
While Jacobs noted that the program is geared toward providing resources for the youth, it also has been a good opportunity for the six organizers to come together as they never have before.
“This is a tremendous collaboration among these providers,” Jacobs said. “It’s a great thing that this is happening and that it’s being done through these partnerships.”
Michael Hinson, COLOURS executive director, said he brought the idea of the internship program to other community leaders and knew it would need cooperation from a collection of organizations.
“I had reached out to the other youth-service providers to say that this is something the young people need and the community needs,” Hinson said. “This was not something one of our organizations could have done alone because the level of involvement needed requires a number of us to make it successful.”
Louis Bonilla, executive director of GALAEI, said the initiative could lead to stronger, more effective working relationships among these organizations.
“We all know each other, but that spirit of working together and that spirit of friendship and bonds of solidarity can become strengthened as we do more work together,” Bonilla said.
Hinson added that while the program will require a good deal of work from the organizing agencies and the interns, the effort will help ensure future success among the younger LGBT generations.
“This is a huge opportunity to fill a gap in the community that has been here for a long time,” he said. “We need business and employment mentorships for our young people. Not many other places would take this initiative to make this happen specifically for the youth in our community, so it has to come from within our own community.”
Youth interested in the program should contact one of the six participating agencies.