Growing further on Fridays

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Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington addresses attendees at the GRow1000 summer youth program's professional development series in the Grand Rapids City Commission Chambers at City Hall on Friday, July 7, 2023. Courtesy photo.

Participants in a summer youth program got a glimpse of the Grand Rapids City Commission Chambers on Friday, July 7 as they took part in “GRow Further Fridays,” the first in a series of professional development workshops.

Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington addresses youth ages 14-17 at a professional development workshop at City Hall on Friday, July 7, 2023.

The event kicked off with an address from City Manager Dr. Mark Washington, who created the GRow1000 initiative in the summer of 2020. Launched in response to ongoing racial and economic disparities as well as those brought about by the ramifications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Washington called on local businesses and community leaders to employ 1,000 young people during the summer. The result was a six-week employment program that employs area youth, ages 15 to 24, at various worksites around the city. The youth in the program are referred to as “GRowers.” Each works 17 hours per week at a participating organization or business. 

Local leaders in education and mental health, each with his or her special message, took the spotlight during the initial three-hour workshop at City Hall. Among them were Educator Sheree Joseph-Bos, who gave a presentation on dressing for success. Cole Williams presented a talk called, “Protecting Your Peace.” 

The six-week Friday morning series will include instructional lectures, talks and other types of presentations on resume writing, creativity in the workplace, customer service, networking and post-secondary college advising and more.

GRow Further Fridays was made possible through an ongoing partnership between the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools and “Our Community’s Children,” an organization that helps provide youth with solutions to real world problems. For more information, visit ourcommunityschildren.com.

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