Summer program lets teens earn money while learning in-demand skills

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Thousands of teens are participating in Franklin County’s Summer Youth Success Program during summer break.

The program gives more than 2,000 teens aged 14-18 jobs for the summer.

All kids in the program are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.

County Commissioners said the work programs are designed to give kids a leg up on their future careers and vary from technology to research to data entry.

Sixteen-year-old Makida Bekele is barely old enough to drive, but she’s already fluent in coding. “It’s basically like the language of the internet,”

“It’s basically like the language of the internet,” Makida said. This is her third summer working for Tech Corps in Franklin County using HTML and CSS to bring websites to life.

“It is not just like a summer job, you are doing something that actually works your brain,” Makida said.

Tech Corps is one of 10 non-profits that Franklin County selected after a bid process to partner with this year.

“They are learning and they are earning, this is a real job,” Lisa Chambers with Tech Corps said. The non-profit’s goal is to gear today’s teens from using media to creating it.

In total, 2385 Ohio teens are working across the non-profits. The teens work up to 20 hours per week earning 8-10 dollars and hour.

“They are going to make decisions about their future based on these experiences,” said Joy Bevins, Director of Franklin County Job and Family Services.

The entire program costs taxpayers $9.8 million dollars. Bevins calls it an investment in our greatest resource, today’s youth.

“This is a generational investment that our commissioners make every summer,” Bevins added.

For kids like Makida, it’s an eye-opening experience. “It’s definitely a door opener,”

“It’s definitely a door opener,” Makida said. The teen plans to go into computer science research when she graduates high school but believes in today’s digital world, what she learns here, can translate into any field. “You could literally put it in any career,”

“You could literally put it in any career,” Makida said.

Franklin County’s Summer Success program includes another $3.2 million dollars that allows 2472 kids aged 5-13 to attend day camps for the summer months.

To learn more about the program, tap here.

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