Students learn leadership, teamwork with SYI Service Projects


Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) is an employment program for TeenQuest graduates that provides on-the-job training, teaches soft skills such as communication and time management, and allows students to earn money during the summer.

The program also provides students with the opportunity to serve their community through service-learning projects. In the past, students have come together to perform one large project. This year, each SYI employer is coordinating a different project for their students to complete.

“By having our SYI employers coordinate projects, we are able to ensure smaller groups for our students’ safety,” says James Avery program director of Flint & Genesee Education & Talent.

For example, at the North End Soup Kitchen (NESK), students will work to beautify the non-profit’s building by planting flowers and doing landscape work. This is in addition to assembling 1,000 school bags for local teachers to deliver to at-risk students.

“While doing this work, students will have the opportunity to see that other students and local teachers don’t have the time or resources to gather supplies to make learning successful,” says John Manse, Director of Community Services for Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, which runs NESK. “They will also be exposed to other services that NESK provides for individuals who have struggles beyond food insecurity.”

Another employer, Mott Community College, has plans for students to create packets containing literature about the Mott Workforce Development programs and meet with the community during drop offs at the Flint Farmers’ Market and Berston Field House.

“With this opportunity, students will understand the beauty of giving back while gaining an appreciation for what they have,” says Daphne Epps, director of youth services for Mott Community College’s Workforce Education Center. “They also have the opportunity to support the community in which they live.”

Students will share their volunteer experiences with each other during SYI’s end-of-the-year celebration picnic, which will be held Aug. 5 in downtown Flint’s Brush Park. They will also have the opportunity to share their skills – for example, spoken word poetry or dance – during a talent show.

SYI is a summer youth employment program open to students who graduate from TeenQuest, a pre-employment training program facilitated by Flint & Genesee Education & Talent.

To learn more about TeenQuest and how to get involved, visit

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