Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Summer Jobs - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Summer Jobs

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Summer jobs for teens are tough to find, especially in needy neighborhoods. 

But a select group of Memphis teenagers have uncovered the holy grail of summer employment. They are getting paid for learning new skills in neighborhoods.
 
"We learn everything from Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, all that good stuff," 15 year old Charles Turner said.

"Once I go to a job I will already know some of the skills and I can maybe help other people," 16 year old Kendra Armstrong said.

These young people come from public housing complexes in dramatic transition. Some lived in Lamar Terrace at Lamar and I-240. It has been torn down and re-created as University Place. Others come from Dixie Homes on Poplar near the medical center; it's been razed and renamed Legends Park.

"We are a small non-profit that provides case management services to the families that are being re-located from those two developments," Karla Davis of urban Strategies Memphis HOPE said.

25 lucky youngsters were chosen for summer jobs from Dixie Homes and Lamar Terrace. They earn $75 a week for eight weeks  by learning computer skills, financial management, and health education.

"I would say that we're creating diamonds. We have a diamond in the rough. And how much rougher can you get than Mississippi and Lauderdale?" instructor Zina Parker said.

The training takes place on Mississippi Boulevard near Lauderdale in South Memphis in the highest crime, lowest income zip code in Memphis. Bringing new skills to a neighborhood crying for change.

"We never know what our youth can do until we have somebody behind them like the instructors to push them and teach them things. And once they know that, they can go anywhere," instructor Diometrice Ford said.  

The federal government pays millions for the new housing. But the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis and others have raised millions privately for the summer jobs and other social services. 

"We think kids should have an opportunity to make some money. It gives them a sense of value and accomplishment," Davis said.

The youngsters will form teams to create projects. For example, they will do brochures, power point presentations, or short movies for clients.
 

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