NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mayor Megan Barry’s initiative to put teens to work and hopefully cut youth violence still has job opportunities available as students head into the last three weeks of school.
“The business community has really stepped up. Our last number is 9,600 jobs in the portal,” Mayor Barry said. “We absolutely believe we will make that 10,000 number, and we have about 7,600 kids signed up.”
Mayor Barry said giving teens hope is one of the goals of the program, which is called Opportunity NOW. It’s a result of the mayor’s Youth Violence Summit to identify ways to reduce youth violence Nashville.
“What I want to see is, I want to see a reduction of kids killing kids,” she said.
There are four main paid opportunities. One focuses on teens ages 14 to 16 years old and is called “Experience Work.” It is a project-based program that promotes community engagement.
High schoolers aged 16.5 to 18 years old will be able to participate in a six-week summer internship program at local businesses and community organizations.
For teens who graduate at the end of this school year and have plans to attend college, they will be able to participate in the “Summer Plus” part of the program.
For other teens who graduate, there will be a “Work Now” opportunity for immediate employment.
Lockland Table Community Kitchen and Bar is sponsoring two interns for the summer. Cara Graham and business partner Hal Holden-Bache own the East Nashville restaurant and helped raise money through the Les Dames d’Escoffier International Nashville Chapter.
The organization is made of women who are leaders in the food, beverage and hospitality professions.
“I know the owner and staff will show them how an independent restaurant works from the front of a house to the back of the house,” Les Dames d’Escoffier Board Member Nancy Vienneau said. “It is not just a one stop thing that ends after six weeks; this is a beginning of a relationship.”
Opportunity NOW is a result of feedback from young people during Youth Violence Summit’s the mayor’s office hosted in the Spring of 2016 as a result of increased youth violence.
Former councilmember at large Ronnie Steine is Mayor Barry’s Youth Policy Advisor.
“This is going to help young people in our community develop the skills they need for the workforce of 2017 and going forward,” he said. “Young people would like to earn a paycheck and they would like to do something meaningful.”
All teens living in Davidson County between 14 years old and 24 years old are able to apply for the Opportunity Now program.
A job fair for teens who want to get a job through Opportunity NOW is scheduled for May 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Southeast Community Center located at 5260 Hickory Hollow Parkway Suite 202.
Teens do not have to sign up for the program in person. They can apply through the Opportunity NOW portal.