What is this “Genesis Program” you speak of?

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Bring yourself back to when you were 15-years-old. Now imagine…That feeling of earning your first pay check. The sense of purpose each morning knowing you’re being counted on and invested in. The accomplishment of mastering new skills for work and life. The reward of building meaningful connections and references. The gratification of coming home exhausted from a long day’s hard work. We all know how challenging it is to find your first job, a necessary precursor to experiencing this deep fulfillment. There is the running (and accurate) joke that an entry level job requires 5 years of experience. But where do you start? Where do you get the chance to prove yourself for the first time? A chance like that usually involves a parent or friend advocating for you with an employer they know personally. Even for those born and raised in the area, connections to people with pull to bring a resume to the forefront for priority are generally few and limited. For a significant number of youth in our community, they have only been in the country for a handful of years and this method requires a firm establishment in the community. Where do they turn?

Then comes the cycle we all know too well: Apply, apply, apply and more times than not, never hear back. It has proven especially challenging in our age of technology where youth are not afforded the same opportunity to show their determined eyes and eager smiles in person when applying. If youth are persistent and successfully secure a job, it may not prove to be a meaningful experience because they may just feel like a cog in the machine. This is where community member Marcus Clemmer responded to the need with his passion of affording youth these opportunities. Marcus has experience working in trades where he built meaningful connections with employers in the city outskirts and even changed his career to afford himself the time to develop the Genesis Program.

The mission of the program is to offer youth who express a need for employment the opportunity to interview for a variety of jobs. With great success in the Beta run of the program in Summer 2018, Genesis officially launched in Summer 2019! This year, we doubled our number in partnered employers and tripled the number of employed youth. Our goal for 2020 is to have 15 youth employed with the option of continuing to work through the school year, potentially leading to full-time employment upon graduation. As of Friday August 16th, Genesis youth have 1 more week of their first summer jobs and they are gearing up for the new school year ahead. Now imagine their feeling of pride stepping into the new school year with hard earned money in their pockets. The extra pep in their step walking down the halls with confidence in their abilities and new experiences. Rather than staying in their comfort zones, they chose to take steps towards building a brighter and hopeful future for themselves, their families and community.  

We are celebrating Genesis Youth’s hard work on Monday August 26th from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm with a potluck at the Neighborhood Hub (located at 465 Phillip St #13, Waterloo) with their family, friends and employers. Everyone is welcome to join the event to learn more about our plans for Genesis Summer 2020 and hear from the youth about their experience.

If you are an employer or you know an employer who believes that investing in the lives of youth is monumental in building stronger communities and brighter futures, please reach out to Marcus Clemmer at (519) 501- 3531 or email him marcusc@adventure4change.org  to discuss how you can make a real difference in the lives of these youth, sending positive ripple effects into the community for years to come.

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