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Looking for a summer job? Canton program connects students with local employers

City of Canton
Jimmy Emerson
Creative Commons
Canton is helping students get summer jobs by connecting them with local employers.

Canton is expanding a summer jobs and enrichment program it launched last year to include middle schoolers as well as high school students this summer.

The city is partnering with Simply Youth, a local nonprofit organization, to connect local employers with young people looking for summer work.

The program, which also includes daily education and community engagement, will be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds, said Sherice Freeman, director of community development for the city, said.

"Community engagement creates pride, it creates acceptance for students and a sense of belonging and that leads to productive citizens working within the community," Freeman said. "We know research indicates that and the job does as well.”

The program also gives students a chance to be productive during the summer when they are not attending school, she said. It also reduces the summer learning slide, which is the loss of academic skills over the summer when students are not actively learning, she said.

The program encourages youth to be more active in their local community and to learn the importance of civic participation, Freeman said.

“This will give them some time to have some positive reinforcement over the summer while learning and also receiving funds for working for giving community engagement,” Freeman said.

High school students will be placed in paying jobs with businesses in Canton for up to ten weeks. Middle schoolers won't work, but can participate in an array of enrichment activities and community service, such as volunteering at a foodbank or working summer festivals. All participants must be Canton residents.

The program will also help young people get career and community experience, in addition to helping employers in the city, said Terrance Jones, CEO of Simply Youth.

“We have a myriad of different positions or service areas that we believe that is available,” Jones said, “and we just need the employers to be able to come up with [what] the jobs are and what the job description would be so that we can actually, you know, pair students who are interested in, in these opportunities.”

Many of the jobs students will be working will be at local businesses that need more employees, Jones said. This can help those businesses get back on track after the pandemic caused thousands to leave the workforce. It also may lead to employment that continues past the summer.

Simply Youth will provide students with a two-day job readiness program to teach employment skills.

The city will use ARPA money to reimburse employers for half of the students’ hourly wages, up to $15 an hour. Participants engage with an academic curriculum taught by certified teachers and staff from Canton City Schools in the morning, Freeman said. In the afternoon, they'll work for local employers.

Simply Youth will plan the summer activities and events for middle school participants, while the city will supervise the request for proposals for the non-profit and other Canton organizations included in the program.

Kennedy Gotham was a news intern in the spring and summer of 2023. A journalism major with a minor in media advocacy at Kent State University, she plans to graduate in May 2024.