by Aubrey McClain
Three programs designed to serve thousands of Flint youth have been granted $271,000 by a group of 12 donors/institutions, the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce recently announced.
The funds will focus on after-school programming, teen employment, and economic development in Genesee County.
Recipient programs are YouthQuest, TeenQuest, and Summer Youth Initiative (SYI), all administered by the Genesee Area Focus Fund, the non-profit arm of the Chamber of Commerce.
The donors include The Ruth Mott Foundation, the Hagerman Foundation, the Chase Foundation and nine others listed below.
Notably, a single California resident, Stephanie Pasternak, is among the donors. Chamber spokesperson Izzi Joseph said Pasternak became interested in helping the youth of Flint affected by the water crisis. She donated $1,000 and her employer, Cymer, a technological firm developing data chips and light sources, matched Pasternak’s donation for a total of $2,000 additional fund going to help Flint’s youth.
Joseph, the Chamber’s communications and public relations specialist, said the funds donated are new grants, but most of them are from donors who have supported the programs in the past. Joseph clarified that of the donated funds, $70,000 will support the Chamber’s economic development efforts and $191,600 will support the youth programming.
Primary support for the programs comes from the C.S. Mott Foundation, which last year provided $3.1 million to support YouthQuest and $825,000 to support Summer Youth Initiative.
YouthQuest is a comprehensive after-school program serving approximately 2,000 K-12 students each year providing educational, enrichment, and physical fitness opportunities. YouthQuest operates in 15 different locations in Flint and Genesee County.
According to their website, YouthQuest connects schools to the community by introducing students to neighborhood organizations, theaters, museums, and more. As part of the after-school program, students receive a nutritious snack and dinner while the program focuses on youth and leadership development. Students are exposed to technology, life skills, career options and awareness, as well as character education.
TeenQuest, a program offers training for Flint teenagers between 14 – 19 interested in refining skills to stand out to potential employers. Teens attend a 5-week training session where they learn 12 core employment competencies. Skills taught include interviews, resume and application preparation, business etiquette, communication, workplace ethics, communication, character development, positive mental attitude, managing change, taking initiative, conflict resolution, teamwork, and goal setting. To graduate from the program, students must also complete volunteer requirements.
Once students have successfully completed and graduated from TeenQuest, they have the opportunity to be a part of the Summer Youth Initiative (SYI). SYI helps teens find paid summer employment. Successful graduates are invited to attend the Summer Youth Initiative Job Fair which connects students with local employers. Teens may also discover employment or intern opportunities from local employers, for profit and nonprofit, through the school year.
Grantors and donors, along with financial contributions and program supported, as identified by the Chamber, are as follows:
- Ruth Mott Foundation, $75,000 (Summer Youth Initiative (SYI))
- The Hagerman Foundation, $50,000 (SYI)
- Chase Foundation, $40,000 (Economic Development)
- G. Bishop, $30,000 (Economic Development)
- Anonymous, $30,000 (SYI)
- Alden and Vada Dow Family Foundations, $10,000 (YouthQuest)
- Whiting Foundation, $10,000 (YouthQuest)
- Genisys Credit Union, $5,000 (TeenQuest)
- Merkley Youth Charitable Trust, $5,000 (SYI)
- Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, $3,600 (YouthQuest)
- Stephanie Pasternak and Cymer, $2,000 (YouthQuest)
- Todd McCredie of McCredie Insurance, $1,000 (SYI)
According to the Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President of Economic Development, Janice Karcher, the funding also will serve to assist business retention and attraction activities led by the Chamber.
“This allows us to help existing and future businesses secure financial packaging, identify talent and training resources, pursue client base expansion and more,” she stated.
EVM staff writer Aubrey McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.