Working for Youth initiative needs more employers, donors to support KC teen internships

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s an urgent call for employers and donors for a paid summer internship program called Working For Youth that will help more than 1,000 Kansas City area students get valuable work experience.

University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate Daisy Garcia Montoya just finished an internship at City Hall in the communications department. 

“When I was an intern, I got to see a lot of the policies that were being made the research that goes into that and even be a part of that,” Garcia Montoya said. 

City Hall is one of more than 100 employers that will host interns through the Working for Youth initiative. Several organizations have partnered to pay for students to have internships in fields like health, technology and more this summer. 

“We’re really going to see the benefits later on when we start to look at how rich our workforce is going to be with the level of diversity, the level of skill,” said William Dowdell, senior director of the KC Social Innovation Center. 

The organization expected to see 500 applicants; instead 1,000 high school students have signed up.

That increases the need for employers and donations to pay for the $2,000 stipend each student earns. The goal is to find 150 employers willing to participate and raise $1 million to fund stipends.

Dowdell said partners will help facilitate the process to secure the interns and help figure out how they can fit into a particular workplace. 

“A lot of employers have never had internships. They’re not used to high school students. But it has been extremely positive, and employers have been really supportive,” Dowdell said. “We just need some more.” 

The salaries are fully paid by the nonprofits organizing the effort. Employers are invited to match the contributions to help sponsor more students.

Employers participating say the benefits are endless. 

“Employers have this huge opportunity to benefit, to watch their youth grow and give to back to their community,” said Aly Hernandez, external affairs manager for City Hall. 

For students, this is chance to learn more about careers, skills and interests in hopes of one day returning to work in Kansas City. 

“I feel like this is really a call for employers to help people get that experience they need to thrive in college and post-graduation and to find the job they want,” Garcia Montoya said. 

If employers or donors are interested, you can sign up at workingforyouth.org or contact KC Common Good at info@kccommongood.org

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