A Publication of WTVP

As we move into spring and warmer temperatures, we realize that summer is not too far away. For those of us with teenagers (myself included), it is time to start looking for employment; waiting until school is out is unlikely to provide the best opportunities. We all know the importance of a good job in building a good work ethic and real work experience to go along with one’s education.

With that in mind, Councilman Bill Spears provided an idea last spring that culminated in a collaboration with the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Development and District 150 titled the “Mayors’ Careers for Youth Program.” Through this pilot effort, we hoped to provide jobs for up to a dozen students. The Chamber recruited its members to provide jobs for the kids, and respond they did! We were fortunate to get 14 employers involved who provided jobs for 23 students last summer. While the program was effective, it was also a good learning experience for the organizers. Over the fall and winter the program was fine-tuned, and this year we are ready to make a huge leap forward.

With the existing partnership arrangement, a stronger initiative was born through an affiliation with city leader Carl Cannon and the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. program. The new program is titled the “Mayors’ Careers for Youth 2007 ELITE Youth Program.” With Carl’s assistance and that of his ELITE youth program team, we are targeting 100 students for jobs this summer, each of whom will have gone through a program to better prepare them for that important first job.

The students are first identified by school district personnel. They then take part in the ELITE Youth program, working on skills like job market preparation, applying for a job, interviewing, job survival, financial literacy, job termination and career exploration to prepare them for the job. Students who complete the program successfully will be certified and ready for work.

I have mailed out an appeal to Chamber members to participate in this year’s program, and I would encourage anyone reading this to contact the Chamber or Workforce Development if you’re interested in putting a student to work. The program is proactively seeking progressive companies and businesses dedicated to making a significant difference NOW—companies that are committed to action and willing to assume a leadership role in providing real opportunities to qualified, motivated and capable youth.

This from Carl: “This is not an entitlement program. Rather, it is a challenging, performance-based opportunity for youth to acquire valuable interpersonal and practical work skills leading to open, competitive employment in the community. Only eligible volunteers will be accepted and they must meet exacting personal and professional standards to maintain their place in the program. Candidates will undergo intensive and continuous job and life skills training and must earn employment certification prior to being placed in a position with an employer. More importantly, candidates are required to attend and actively participate in school as a condition of employment. No school……No job.”

Carl’s ELITE team of community volunteers, combined with the Chamber, Workforce and District 150 are focused and committed to making this year’s program better. Again, please consider doing your part and participating in the program this summer. We are limiting the program to 100 jobs. The focus is on quality, and we want you to be a part of the program’s success.

Please join me in thanking Carl Cannon, the Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Development and District 150 for expanding the program and providing outstanding opportunities for our kids. Start looking at the momentum in our community to direct more attention to our future…..our kids. Consider it. Be a part of it. Thanks in advance for your participation. IBI