“The kids are getting a lot of skills from working here,” said Program Administrator Karine Grigoryan. “Not only are they gaining the work experience. They are going through training. They are being mentored by staff.”
The Verdugo Workforce Investment Board, which administers the state money, has signed off on the plan.
This year’s annual allocation of state funds comes at a time when demand is higher than ever, Grigoryan said.
The organization’s summer youth employment program, which received a jolt of federal stimulus money, received more than 1,500 applications for its approximately 250 spots.
In previous years, the program received between 700 and 800 applications.
And with fall recruitment for the year-round program still ongoing, the organization has already received hundreds of applications, Grigoryan said.
“A lot of the youth are a really looking to help their parents and families,” she said. “A lot of their parents have been laid off.”
In light of the increased need, the organization is exploring other grant funding options.
“We are definitely looking into additional funding,” she said. “There is a need, and I think it’s important to get youth off the streets and give them exposure, especially to earn money.”
Many of the program’s older participants end up being kept on by their employers in full-time jobs, Grigoryan said.
Souseh Babomian, project coordinator at Integral Engineering Services, said she owes her current job to her time with the program.
She started with the brush clearance program, then moved on to a job with the Verdugo Job Center. She learned of the opportunity with her current employer while working at the center.
In turn, Glendale city officials often laud the program for creating some of the community’s most active young leaders. Grigoryan, who now runs the program, is herself a graduate.
“All you have to do is see the kids there and see how much they are enjoying it and benefiting from it,” said Glendale Councilwoman Laura Friedman. “They learn responsibility and teamwork.”