For our Employability guest blog, Forward Wayne County asked Larry Young, Director of Teen and Workforce Development at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County, to discuss the WIN program, a teen workforce development initiative.

The WIN Program

WIN is an acronym for Workforce Initiative Network, and it is simply an eight-week workforce development program. It is split into two sections. The first one is three workshop sessions where we teach 8th grade and up how to complete a resume, cover letter, application, and finally, an interview. The goal is to give them the knowledge and confidence they need to reach their first job and create the resume they will use (maybe) forever.

The second section involves job shadowing. We take high schoolers to 8-10 different local businesses to highlight the jobs in their community. We go to manufacturing, retail, and fast food to expose them to a wide variety of jobs. For this cohort, we were able to use the funding we received to buy them a professional outfit, so when they go to their first interview, they have the clothes for it.

A lot of teens grow up to resent the town they grew up in. If we can show them that there are quality, high-paying jobs in their neighborhood, maybe we can keep their talents local.

Creating Partnerships and Impacts

This program came about because Boys & Girls Clubs saw a need. When we polled teens nationwide, they said they come to clubs for 1. friends, 2. food, and 3. jobs.

Friends and food are easier to achieve; however, we knew we needed a program solely focused on their workforce development. We partnered with Nathan Hogg of Hoggs Helps and Carl Rhinehart of Future Achievers to create the program. When I was hired, I was given the program outline and was told to run with it. We rely on community partnerships to help with the program, which also gives teens a chance to meet and learn from successful people.

Youths are rewarded well for completing the program. After the first section, youth receive a T-shirt, a flash drive, pens, a yearly planner, and a $100 gift card. After the second section, they receive a $250 gift card. It runs once a semester and youth are welcome to come back after 1 full year.

WIN’s Impacts and Future

The program is simple yet effective. All our surveys say that participants learned a skill they didn’t have and feel more confident about applying for their first job. We help provide them a foundation for their future because we all need jobs and need to know how to get them. With more success comes more opportunities to grow this program and our impact.

One day, I hope to have most of the youth in the community pass through this program.

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