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‘One Summer Chicago’ Provides Jobs For Teens On School Break

11038257_1644180575803930_8774317880558771840_nNathali Rebolledo and Jane Kimpaye could be doing something else with their summer. Instead, they are working five hours per day in Edgewater, painting the underside walls of the Metra viaducts along Ravenswood Avenue, as part of a program called One Summer Chicago.

“I needed something to do in the summer, and I heard about this program through a Hispanic TV channel,” Rebolledo, 18, said. “I gave it a shot, registered, applied online, and I got the job.”

More than 24,000 youth and young adults ages 14 to 24 are taking part in One Summer Chicago, an initiative that provides jobs and enrichment opportunities for youth during the summer months, according to the program’s website. Government institutions, community based organizations and companies have joined together to offer paying jobs.

Students are paid $8.25 per hour, according to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times. Most programs are between 20 and 25 hours per week. Youth are provided with transportation money and lunch, Rebolledo said. The jobs range from working outdoors to involvement in arts and academic enrichment programs, the One Summer Chicago website said.

teen-1The program started on June 29 and included instructions from the City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation on how to paint and what to expect. Members of Greencorps Chicago, a green industry job training program for individuals with barriers to employment, also talked to the students about teamwork, said Kristin Rubbelke, one of the group’s on-site supervisors. On Monday, July 6, the students headed out to the viaduct at Winnemac and Ravenswood avenues for their first official painting project. Since then, the group has been painting about one viaduct per day, Rubbelke said.

“I was a little bit nervous at first being in charge of a bunch of kids,” the Loyola University Chicago graduate student from North Dakota said. “It’s my first summer in Chicago. (But) we have a good group of kids.”

The viaducts are being painted a bright white. The One Summer Chicago youth wear orange and yellow vests while painting. Some have painting experience, and others do not.

Kimpaye, 17, did not have any painting experience when she applied to work for One Summer Chicago. But she saw information about the program at Sullivan High School, where she will be a sophomore, and was encouraged to apply.

“I wanted to have more experience with painting, and I’m getting experience with Chicago jobs,” she said. “Our supervisors are good people. They treat us good.”

Rubbelke said that along with technical experience, the students are learning about financial literacy. Bank On Chicago and One Summer Chicago have teamed up to provide the youth involved in the program with free banking options. Bank partners have agreed to offer products that have no monthly fees, minimums or overdraft. This helps teach the youth about ways to keep their money safe and how to make it easier to save money.

Non-profit organizations partner with the City of Chicago to help One Summer Chicago succeed. Rubbelke said Lawrence Hall Youth Services is in charge of the group she’s overseeing this summer. The group will work in Edgewater until Aug. 14, Rubbelke said.

She added that the response from motorists driving by has been positive.

“The city puts on programs to keep kids busy, put a little money in their pockets, and renew the city,” Rubbelke said. “Yesterday people were honking horns and giving us thumbs-up signs.”


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