GRow1000 returns for its third year to help shape careers of next generation

Upon placing more than 600 young adults over the past two summers, the GRow1000 Youth Employment Program returns for its third year from June 20 to July 29. Launched in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial and economic disparities, the City of Grand Rapids created this professional program to target West Michigan’s underrepresented and under-resourced emerging professionals. 

Throughout this six-week, paid work experience, youths ages 15 to 24 are provided the opportunity to leverage their career prospects by gaining on-the-job insight, skills and mentorship. 

Last year, the City partnered with over 70 companies across government, nonprofits, higher education, business and health care. This summer, West Michigan Works! will also offer year-round support to its program participants post-completion.
Organizations, such as Spectrum Health, have already pledged their participation for a third year. “The City of Grand Rapids pairs us with some of the most passionate, engaged and bright young people in our community,” Nicole McConnell, Spectrum Health’s talent acquisition manager for community programs and pipelines, says. “It’s exciting for us at Spectrum Health to align youth with careers they may not even know existed, spark their interest in the health, science and technology needs of the future and make it possible for them to work with us in the future, serving the community they grew up in.”

In years past, Spectrum Health distributed 60 placements across such departments as internal medicine, marketing, nursing, surgical services, legal, information services, human resources, research and business operations. “We want to ensure our students can see the vast array of opportunities that exist within the healthcare industry,” Micalah Webster, Spectrum Health’s senior vice president of human resources, says. 
Within these departments, participants could be given the chance to assist with transporting patients, de-escalation communication training, budget and cost analysis, imaging information systems workstations or repairing syringe pumps. 
Since Spectrum Health understands careers are not always linear, participants are also invited to career pathway exploration series and professional development training. “We want to help normalize the different journeys people take while also sharing some of the steps that are key to roles participants may be interested in,” Webster says. “Above all, we hope students walk away from their time at Spectrum Health with not only an understanding of all health care has to offer, but also an increased sense of confidence in themselves and their abilities, clarity in their goals for the future and meaningful relationships developed with their Spectrum Health mentors and other GRow1000 peers.”

With a goal of creating equitable inclusion, participating organizations such as Spectrum Health also want to alleviate any barriers youths may have in terms of resources during this program. “Whether that means getting them set up with a hot spot at home so they have Wi-Fi for the summer, providing transportation card vouchers, meal cards to have lunch each work day or clothing to wear to work, we want to ensure that each student has a happy and healthy summer with the resources to do so,” Webster says.

Participants, employers and financial donors can learn more at The City of Grand Rapids

Photos courtesy of Spectrum Health
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