Youths earn money, gain experience at Grow Detroit

Monique Whittaker isn’t just a camp counselor. She’s a problem-solver. A playmate. A chip-bag opener. A hugger.

“She’s awesome,” said DeAnna Newton, 10.

Whittaker, 17, is a camp counselor at Camp Africa: HERO! at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. And she’s one of 8,157 Detroit youths employed this summer through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, a jobs program that aims to provide summer jobs for young people between the ages of 14 and 24.

This summer’s group is the largest in the program’s short history. Teens 14-17 make $8 an hour and those 18-24 make $9.50 in the part-time jobs. Participants also get 12 hours of work readiness training and 24 hours of other training, including financial literacy and learn about conflict-resolution.

For Whittaker, a recent graduate of Communication and Media Arts High School, this is just the beginning. She’s attending Oakland Community College in the fall and has dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

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