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Earn and Learn Initiative provides Milwaukee boys with tools to become tomorrow's leaders

"We ain't giving our grandbabies, our kids to the streets. It ain't gonna happen."
Posted at 4:55 PM, Jul 14, 2022

MILWAUKEE — What tools does one need to become a future leader? Relationship building, teamwork and mentorship.

Those are the things these young men are learning in Camp Rise, an Earn and Learn initiative developed in partnership with Voices of the Elders, Milwaukee Public Schools and The City of Milwaukee.

Romell Greer is the Special Projects Manager at Employ Milwaukee.

"We always have Earn and Learn going on every year which is 14-24, so we wanted to try something a little bit younger and it's 10-14 within this one," said Greer.

They earn $200 a week and this seven-week camp includes field trips across the city, career exploration and beautifying Milwaukee through projects like this at Custer Playfield.

Jeremiah and Zyon are both employed with Camp Rise.

"So we was going around cleaning up the community basically making this place cleaner and better," said Jeremiah.

"What I like most about this program is that they are teaching us more learning experiences, such as financial literacy and taking us out to work sites to do hands-on work," said Zyon.

The mentorship comes from senior members of the community. Michael Brox is a part of Voices of the Elders also known as VOTE.

"We got a little tired of what was going on on the streets so us old guys decided to stand up and say, hey we ain't giving our grandbabies, our kids to the streets. It ain't gonna happen," said Brox.

They're happy to share their wisdom as inspirational speakers who address the young men with positive messages, like Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman.

"It's important for us to be a part of these engagements to show that we are part of the team of uplifting our community of being engaging and understanding the importance of having some hand or support in for our young ones," said Chief Norman.

The messages are well received and at the end of the week, the kids don't only go home feeling motivated, but they have a paycheck as well.

"It feels good making your own money and don't have to ask your parents," said Jeremiah.

As these young men learn what it takes to be a leader in their community, the overall goal of Camp Rise is clear.

"Stay focused, believe in yourself, great is in you and you do not have to walk this path alone," said Chief Norman.

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