BENTON HARBOR — The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Southwest Michigan formally inducted some of its local students into the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates program during a launch celebration Tuesday.
The effort broke new ground as the Benton Harbor location became the first Boys & Girls Club nationwide to offer Jobs for America’s Graduates programming.While not every middle school-aged student was in attendance, more than 100 were initiated into the JMG program, providing career-driven education and guided exploration through different paths.“I started JMG when I was in seventh grade and since then I’ve learned how to interview for jobs and I’ve even gotten a job at my local gymnastics gym,” said Savanna Bates, 2023 Exemplary Youth of the Year and eighth-grade student. “We also learned how to make a resumé and it’s a lot of fun to see all the options that are out there.”During the launch celebration, tables with different job opportunities were set up for students to explore, including health care, law and entrepreneurship tables. The health care table included baby mannequins to practice CPR on.
Additionally, many middle school students were given awards for their participation in various different JMG programs. Some attended a summer program for CPR, while some went to a conference and others completed a fashion design program.“Every single sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grader attends my program if I’m here that day,” Workforce Development JMG Specialist Satanna Warren said. “They get those skills. We practice resumé writing, mock interviewing and sometimes we have other professionals come in to make sure they get a great understanding.”JAG Vice President of Operations and Affiliate Relations Jan Ennis attended the event as the keynote speaker. Ennis spoke about the importance of learning the interview process, leadership and problem solving.“(JAG) has 34 affiliates and this is the first one to have a formal partnership with the Boys & Girls Club,” Ennis said. “And in this case, it’s a JMG affiliate teaching workforce development, project-based learning, career exploration and trauma-informed care.”Upon completion of the school year, Ennis said students from the 2023 graduating class who attended JAG programming are expected to have a 91 percent graduation rate and a 47 percent employment rate.“My freshman year when I got into high school, I didn’t know what was going on. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but JMG helped me find out I didn’t want that,” Boys & Girls Club alumni and Benton Harbor High School senior Quiana Bennett said. “Now I’m set to attend one of the biggest HBCUs and ready to study software engineering.”
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