The City of Memphis Office of Youth Services has matched 3,000-plus teens and young adults with jobs for June and July.
“We are providing meaningful work experiences that will be impactful and enriching at a very critical stage of a young person’s development,” said Youth Services Director Ike Griffin. “These programs help build character and a sense of pride and responsibility in holding a real job.”
The Youth Services Office is in its 10th year.
“The concept of partnering with Memphis businesses and corporate entities for summer employment of youth started about 15 years ago when Dr. (Willie W.) Herenton was mayor and Sara Lewis was special assistant to the mayor,” said Griffin. “They started out with 1,000 jobs in 2008. Since then, the program has expanded tremendously.”
MPLOY is the official name of the six-week, youth jobs program that runs in June and July. Young people, ages 14-22, participate in two segments of the program. MPLOY also teaches young people soft skills training, such as resume writing and interviewing. The entry-level positions and internships offer the youth participants adult-level job skills with long-term benefits.
The first segment is MOYS (Memphis Office of Youth Services) Institute for 14- and 15-year-olds. Participants 16-22 are in the MPLOY program. They work for FedEx, Smith & Nephew, and other participating employers in Memphis. The jobs are offered by private, non-profit, and government employers.
“These young people earn everything,” said Griffin. “They must show up on time, follow the rules of the workplace, and participants sign a pledge that they understand there is 0-tolerance; any infraction means expulsion.
“In addition, participants must complete volunteer work, community service, and there must be parental involvement. These are requirements, not optional. Our programs are character-building.”
MPLOY Plus is the fall version of summer MPLOY.
Also, the Memphis Ambassadors Program (MAP) is a year-round initiative for high school students, getting them involved in community service projects and the Summer Leadership Academy. To participate, students must maintain a 3.0 average and fulfill the volunteerism, community service, and parental involvement requirements.
MAP participants are paid for their academic achievements. Those with higher grade-point averages receive higher payment.
“So these students are rewarded for their performance,” said Griffin. “Their time is productively used in study and fulfilling MAP requirements. Giving young people structure and guidance saves them from roaming the streets and getting into trouble.”
Griffin launched a new initiative called, “I Am Included.”
“This program is for students with disabilities,” said Griffin. “They all receive the same stipend, and the requirements for participating are the same as the other programs: parental involvement, volunteerism, and community service.
“And, this year, I have implemented another activity. Each of these students will write a book entitled, ‘My Story in a Special Way.’ This is empowering for our young people with disabilities.”
The next application period for the Youth Services program is Dec. 2023.
For more information, visit cityofmemphisyouth.org.