‘Big Buddy’ program to give summer jobs to teens in Baton Rouge, April 28 deadline to applyApril 19, 2017
Business Owners and Community Leaders met at the East Baton Rouge Goodwood Library with interests of becoming Workplace Sponsors and Mentors for High School teens.
The “Big Buddy Mentoring” Initiative is sponsored by the Baton Rouge Level Up Program. Level Up provides opportunities for High School youth to learn valuable life and work skills.
During the Summer, students are placed in local businesses, government offices, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations to gain real-life work experiences and they are paid to work.
“This year our goal is to serve 100 teens but we’d like to expand as contributions increase,” said Maliah Mathis, Program Manager for the Big Buddy Program.
“Young people have gifts and talents but they dont realize those gifts can be resources. Our mentors recognize those areas of strengths and show them how to translate their gifts into income,” she said.
Host sites provide 15-20 hours of work per week for each scholar to complete. The amount of time is proportional to the current grade level of the assigned scholar.
“The difference in someone being a success or a failure is their support system,” said Mathis. “This program is not just a jobs program. It is so much more than that. We are impacting their lives to encourage them to be productive contributors to our community.”
The Summer Internship project is sponsored through funding from the Office of Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Broom. 440 teens have been mentored by 224 Workplace Mentors.
The Mayor’s Office estimates the program has made a $400,000 economic impact on the community.
Teens who participate in Level Up receive coaching from mentors, workplace experience, and their receive a stipend for working.
Workplace Mentors are required to attend and participate in three hours of training in positive youth development. They also participate in a Speed Interview similar to Speed Dating where teens get to meet mentors and ask wlget their questions answered. The Mentors conduct weekly check in meetings with the scholars.
Young people who come into the program have to apply to be in this program. They have to fill out an application, write an essay, and get the support of a guidance counselor. “The teens who commit to this program aren’t pushed into it. They really have an interest to be part of the Level Up initiative,” said Mathis.
Howard White, Baton Rouge Author and Business Owner, participates with the program as a Workplace Mentor. He owns a retail store called Top Choice in Scottlandville near the Southern University campus.
“Its a joy to see kids who were once students now as heads of families and community leaders. When you see them prosper you know you have made a great impact on their life,” said White.
White challenged the audience to think back to their high school years. “They are just as ambitious and eager as you were and they will also make the same mistakes you made. A mentor helps to keep them focused,” he said.
He introduced several ideals which make mentoring more successful. “We have to teach them how to use competitiveness to their advantage.”
Working with youth won’t give you overnight results. White told the audience it is a daily commitment. “Rome wasn’t built in a day but it was built daily.”
The Level Up Summer Internships will run from June 5 – July 28 across Greater Baton Rouge.
To participate as a Mentor or a Workplace Host call 225-388-9737. Teens must be in 9th – 12th grade from any area of Baton Rouge Metro. The deadline for teens to apply for jobs is April 28. They must email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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