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City taking applications for Statesboro Youth Connect summer career program
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The city government is accepting applications from Statesboro-resident high school students for Statesboro Youth Connect, or SYC, an inaugural five-week pre-professional program providing job-like experiences with the city and local nonprofit organizations.

This city-sponsored program is set to begin June 7 and will focus on the core concepts of education, employment, civic responsibility, leadership and diversity, the announcement stated. The deadline to apply for SYC is May 4 at 11:59 p.m.

To be eligible for the program, a student must be enrolled in high school, grades 9 through 12 as of August 2021, and living in the city limits of Statesboro. Each week, students will be expected to report Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will earn a weekly stipend.

High school students interested in learning more or applying should visit www.statesboroga.gov/youthconnect.

“I am delighted to see this program finally come to fruition,” said Mayor Jonathan McCollar. “Since taking office in 2017, one of my highest priorities has been engaging the youth of our community in a meaningful way. Typically, young people have to be in college or much older to apply for internships and pre-professional programs.”

But by giving high school students an opportunity for first-hand career development experience, the program should help prepare them for the workforce and give them “a better idea of what they would like to do after graduation,” he said in the city’s announcement.

At the request of McCollar and District 1 City Councilman Phil Boyum, city staff members over the past year developed a plan to allow students to explore possible career paths in local government and nonprofits.

The result is a paid summer experience program “similar to an internship for high school students,” the announcement states. But the city, which has internship agreements with Georgia Southern University and Ogeechee Technical College, is not referring to the high school students as interns.

 

$25,000 funding

During its April 20 meeting, City Council by a 3-0 vote approved a $25,000 expenditure for the first season of the SYC program, in order to provide weekly stipends, amounting to $7.25 an hour, the equivalent of minimum wage, for 30 hours a week to participants.

"By providing our local high schoolers an opportunity to see the inner workings of city operations, we can show them career possibilities they may not have otherwise considered while also establishing a pipeline of local talent that can develop into long-term employees and, ultimately, provide additional stability for the community,” Boyum said in the city release. “Plus, they get the chance to make a little summer money. It's a win-win all around."

City of Statesboro Human Resources Director Demetrius Bynes is directing the program.

“Statesboro Youth Connect is the embodiment of our mayor and City Council’s vision to offer high school students an engaging summer program,” Bynes said.

The pilot program is designed to give 15 to 20 students an “opportunity to learn about local government, strengthen personal skills, explore career paths, and collaborate with civic organizations,” he said. “I am excited to lead this effort for our city and look forward to interacting with some of Statesboro's brightest students.”

His plan calls for students to spend 12 hours each with city departments and the remaining 18 hours with local nonprofit organizations. The program will cover the following topics: fundamentals of city government, life skills, soft skills, as well as lessons in employability, career exploration, civic engagement, leadership and diversity.

Students are slated to receive guidance in some specific job search skills, including writing resumes and cover letters and interviewing.

Participating students will have a one-hour lunch break each day. Lunch will not be provided. Students will need a way to and from City Hall, but access to transportation during the day is not required, said city Public Information Officer Layne Phillips. Students without transportation will be assigned to city departments and nonprofit agencies within walking distance, she said.

A description of the program received by City Council indicated that an exemption to the Statesboro residency requirement could be made for children of city employees.

 

Hope for future

McCollar and City Manager Charles Penny, during the council’s meeting last week and its budget work session Tuesday, said they hope to find a nonprofit organization to host Statesboro Youth Connect in future years after the city oversees its pilot phase this summer.

“Ideally we’d like to have a nonprofit take over administration of the overall program,” Phillips said Thursday. “We’d still be heavily involved in the program, just not with our Human Resources Department running it.”

The city had received many indications of interest in the program by Thursday.

“So we’d hope to expand to serve even more students next year,” Phillips said. “We’re thinking of 35 to 40.”

Questions about the program can be directed to the city’s Department of Human Resources at (912)-764-0683 or through email at hr@statesboroga.gov.


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