Not Just a Summer Job: Summer Youth Initiative Helps Students Gain Full-Time Employment


Each year, TeenQuest graduates are given the opportunity to apply for Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) – a program that helps hundreds of teens find summer employment. However, for some students, it doesn’t end there.

“Giving students the opportunity to gain work experience is one of our main goals,” says James Avery, director of Education & Training of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, which oversees TeenQuest and SYI. “When that turns into a more long-term situation, we know that we are doing something right.”

This year, multiple students were hired on beyond the summer by SYI employers. One student, Coriona Warren, continued working for the Genesee County Community Action Resource Department (GCCARD), an organization that aims to eliminate barriers and level the playing field for the poor, seniors, children and the hard to serve the population of Flint and Genesee County.

“My job works very well with my college class schedule,” says Warren, who works bagging lunches for those in need. “Through TeenQuest, I learned how to work in a professional environment and stay on task, which is one of the reasons I was hired on.”

Students who participate in TeenQuest learn soft skills, interviewing techniques and build leadership skills that help form them into candidates who are prepared for the workplace.

“Summer Youth Initiative students come to us with good experience and are eager to work and learn more about our organization,” says Latoya Jenkins, lead clerical assistance to the neighborhood service center department at GCCARD. “After the summer program, we can hire students who are dedicated workers who show compassion for the residence of Genesee County.”

GCCARD is not the only SYI employer who has hired on students after program is over. Other employers such as Goodwill and Communities First, Inc. also hired students from the 2020 SYI program.

Participating in SYI not only provides work experience to teens in Genesee County, but it can also set them up on a path to future success.

To participate in Summer Youth Initiative, students must first graduate from TeenQuest. For more information on TeenQuest and to find upcoming sessions, visit

TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles StewartMott Foundation.