The city wants the private sector’s help in expanding a summer program that provides job training for at-risk youth.
The program employed 60 teenagers last year, and the city is aiming to put 200 young people to work in 2016. On Tuesday morning, officials with the Savannah Pre-Apprentice Program met with business representatives at the downtown Savannah-Chatham police headquarters to discuss ways to improve the program and attract more employers.
Chatham County Juvenile Court Administrator Adam Kennedy said participating businesses play a crucial role in helping the young people referred to the court — mostly for misdemeanors — get their lives on track.
“So many of the kids are looked at as being a bad kid,” Kennedy said. “But let me tell you, a majority of the kids we work with do want to change their lives.”
The seven-week program managed by Savannah Impact provides academic assistance, mentorship and life skills in addition to the employment opportunities provided June 6 through July 29.
Participants work an average of 20 hours a week and earn at least $7.25 per hour for the training and work hours completed.
While many participants are referred by juvenile court, the program is open to all young people, ages 14-17, who live in Savannah or Chatham County, said Assistant Police Chief Julie Tolbert.
“We want to make sure all our kids get an opportunity to work,” Tolbert said.
Diavante Kittles, 18, said he plans to get his GED and study to become a mechanic at Savannah Technical College after working at Thunderbolt Marine doing boat maintenance during last year’s program.
“I like working with my hands, so that was ideal for me,” Kittles said.
The city will also hire some of the participants through various departments and initiatives such as the housing department’s summer rehab program.
Businesses that agree to participate pay the wages of the employee, which on a full-time basis amounts to $2,030 during the program.
Last year’s business partners included Belford’s, Chatham Personnel, Coca-Cola, Colonial Oil, the East Bay Inn, North Point Hospitality, Savannah Lodging, Thomas & Hutton, Thunderbolt Marine, Visit Savannah and the Wade Law Firm.
Many of the business representatives said they planned to participate again this year.
The program helped transform an “extremely introverted” young lady that the Holiday Inn Express employed at the front desk, said Mark Dana, managing partner of Savannah Lodging.
“It was incredible,” Dana said. “She was so vibrant and happy when she left I know she is going to do well.”
The application deadline for participants is March 31.
Want to participate?
Businesses interested in participating in the city’s Pre-Apprentice Program should contact Jonas Subaar at email@example.com or 912-525-3100, ext. 1456.
Applications are available at each Savannah-Chatham police precinct or headquarters, 201 Habersham St., and personnel will assist from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.