WC Smith kicked off the 30th Anniversary of its Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) July 6, with an Opening Ceremony featuring DC Councilmember Vincent Gray, WPGC 95.5 on-air personality DJ Akademics and DC-based musical producer Dennis Turner, who has performed with various artists, including rapper and DC native Oddisee and comedian Dave Chappelle.
SYEP offers youth ages 14-17 a 6-week paid job working at a WC Smith property or the iCan Technical Theater program at THEARC. The teens also participate in workshops and outings, which this year will include sessions on financial literacy and wellness, visits to local colleges and museums, and outdoor activities.
Since 1992, WC Smith has employed more than 1,300 teens through SYEP, representing more than 75 high schools in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. To qualify for the program, the teens must live in a WC Smith property or be the dependent of a WC Smith employee. Many WC Smith employees are involved with SYEP: screening applications, interviewing applicants, organizing events, chaperoning field trips and supervising the teens in their jobs.
The company had been informally hiring neighborhood teens for summer jobs for several years before deciding to create an organized program, with dedicated staff and structured events. From the start, the program has followed two basic principles. It should a learning experience for the participants – not just a means to a paycheck. And it should be rewarding for the WC Smith staff members who volunteer their time to supervise and mentor young employees.