By Tamia Covington ‘18
“The Work Learn Grow (WLG) program is a city based program that provides youth with jobs during the school year,” said Nicole Corcino the Ridgewood WLG Councilor.
WLG is the fall, winter and spring equivalent to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Students between the ages of 14 and 24 can apply to participate in the program and are selected through a lottery. Once selected they are placed at a worksite, and the working learning and growing begins.
Participants get to pick where they would like to work. They can choose their site from a diverse list of entry-level jobs that are associated with Office Work, Child Care (Daycares, Afterschool Programs), Gyms, Government Agencies, Hospitals, Non-Profit Organizations, Small Businesses, Law Firms, Museums, Sports Enterprises and Retail Organizations. They are recommended to chose a site that offers something that they are interested in so, that they can get the chance to find out if they actually like the work field that they think they want to work in.
The goal of the program is to help prepare the youth for the “real world”, more particularly the working world. The program wishes to teach proper work etiquette, and give students experience, so that they can be prepared to be professional in the working world. The program facilitators saw great success in the SYEP, so much so that they decided to create the WLG program in hopes to continue the progress made in the summer.
“ I have noticed in some of our participants just how they’ve matured even though we are almost halfway through the program,” Ms. Corcino stated. “ I can see already how being in the work site and meeting with us, how they’ve listened and retained the information and applied it in their workplace that they really are growing.”
- Harper, a WLG participant at the St. Johns Recration Center said, “ The program gives teens like me an opportunity to learn how to work in the real world for when they get a job. It helps you with resume skills and finding your passion. It taught me to call my boss if I am running late, I never even knew that you were supposed to do that.”
Many participants appreciate the things that they learn from their work site and take it with them to their next job. Participants also appreciate that they get paid $11 an hour, as of January, for 10 hours maximum a week. They learned in their orientations about saving their money as well as trying not to waste it. Their advisers hope they remember on payday and hope that the students keep the valuable lessons they learned from the program for the rest of their lives.