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Milwaukee summer youth employment program ends with a 'bash'

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Posted at 5:27 PM, Aug 18, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Summer may almost be over, but the experiences the youth in Milwaukee got from taking on their first job during the season will always be remembered.

"Making sure that our kids have something to do positive in the summer is really, really important," said Milwaukee Mayor, Tom Barrett.

It's a summer program going strong for 16 years, ensuring any kid that wants hands-on job experience in the summer gets one.

"It's important that we get out to let people know all of the positive things young people are apart of," said Employ Milwaukee President and CEO, Chytania Brown.

It's called Earn and Learn, a summer youth employment program started by Mayor Barrett. This year, more than 1,200 young people took part in the program and were placed throughout 84 different work sites.

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"Our kids need to be exposed. Especially our kids of color need to be exposed to many things," said Brown.

For first-year Earn and Learn participant Marissa Jones, she says taking part in the program helped prepare her for a future in the workforce.

"I feel like I need to start early because working is something that is going to be a part of my life. I know that not a lot of people usually get these experiences, and get to have mentors who walk them through it," said Jones.

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According to a survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, more than half of employers had no interest in hiring young adults. It's a number that officials in Milwaukee want to change.

"It's important for them to have this exposure to jobs, and to have this ability to put a few bucks in their pocket, and actually get some experience as well," said Barrett.

And thanks to a new $3.8 million grant that went to the Earn and Learn program, they'll be able to do just that.

"We were able to increase the number of youth who got opportunities, as well as increase their wages. To be able to put more kids to work, and give them more money, it was a great summer," said Brown.

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