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JEEP provides youth with job internships

Local employers sought for participation

Posted: October 14, 2010 4:19 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Wanted: local employers with internships for youth. Benefits: 80 hours of on-the-job and life skills training for employees and the opportunity to positively impact the future of our community. To apply: contact Jeremy Lane, JEEP (Juveniles Experiencing Excellence Program) coordinator. 

Sound interesting?  The Kershaw County School District hopes so.

“The biggest expense for an employer comes during a new employee’s training. This is a time when that employee may not be productive, which will burden the company or organization,” said Safe Schools and Healthy Students (SSHS) Grant Project Director Kevin Rhodes. “The great thing about JEEP is that we provide the training wages in the form of an employee stipend, while the employer provides the job skills training at little cost to the company. By the end of this training period the employer receives a worker who is ready to hit the ground running.”

JEEP is a component of the district’s SSHS grant.  But the program is not new to the community; JEEP was operating successfully in Kershaw County and 19 other areas of the state until it fell subject to state budget cuts in 2008. With SSHS funding, Kershaw County is the only program operating in the state today.

“Judge Bill Byars with the Department of Juvenile Justice was the visionary for this program,” said Rhodes. “We’re grateful for his leadership and support of the program and proud that it’s been able to return to Kershaw County.”

The program operates for three 10-week phases throughout the year, serving 18 youth at a time.  Students attend afterschool classes to learn job and life skills such as how to develop a resume, dress professionally and interview for a job to make them successful in the work world.  Students are then placed with local employers for real world job experience.

“We’re interested in finding employers who can offer these students a variety of experiences,” said Lane. “In the past, our students have worked for a printing company, community services agency, veterinarian and even in the Habitat for Humanity store. One of the great things about our program is that we are not just tied to one kind of employer; we can work with most any job setting.”  

Lane said before the state cuts eliminated the program initially, 88 percent of Kershaw County JEEP participants successfully completed the program, and 33 percent gained employment as a result of participation. 

 “This is a successful program that will pay big dividends for Kershaw County,” said Lane. “It’s exciting to see the change it makes in young peoples’ lives.”

Employers interested in participating can contact Lane at jalane@scdjj.net or 432-9171.

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