In high school, I was so confused. I couldn’t stand my senior year when people would ask; what I was doing next. A job, college, the military? I didn’t know. And that’s why I’m so grateful for organizations that help. Organizations like Youth Opportunities Unlimited.
"The saying 'it takes a village' is true," said Marcus Harris. "Y.O.U. is that extended village for young people here in Cuyahoga County. A lot of young people don't have that support network, so we will arm you with the tools to make sure that your journey will be a success."
Harris heads up Y.O.U.’s credential training program, which teaches under or unemployed young people the necessary tools to land employment.
"Our employment credential training program is open to youth and young adults 18 to 24, who are residents of Cuyahoga County. Training is free if they are eligible," Harris said.
With four program branches in customer care, IT, construction, and STNA, the avenues that Y.O.U. opens for employment are vast. But equally important is the guidance they provide along the way.
"The program is unique in that you are placed with a case manager, who is with you throughout the training process, and for one year follow up afterward," said Harris.
This free program is thorough, unique, and robust, and for some, it’s right on time.
"I started attending programs through Y.O.U. my ninth grade year," said graduate Janelle Harris. "I had a toddler close to the end of my high school career. And also I was pregnant in 12th grade. And afterward, it's like you know, what am I gonna do with my life? And me personally, you know I got two little ones. What am I gonna do if I was to, you know, set an example for them? Y.O.U. helped me because they taught me about life,. It really taught me self control and it put money in my pocket."
You read that right. Even during credential training there are still opportunities to be paid.
"The most amazing thing about our program is that it gives you the opportunity to earn why you learn. So we have incentives embedded in the program for milestones, and as a client achieves that milestone, they are eligible for that particular incentive," Harris said.
Humphrey found a job opportunity through the program with Cardinal Health. "This December, I'll be working there for a full year," she said.
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And without training from Y.O.U., this job anniversary might not have come to pass. My dad always said it’s okay not to know where you’re going. What’s not okay, is refusing to find a map in those lost times. With the credential training program being only one of MANY programs offered at Y.O.U., it looks like Youth Opportunities Unlimited helps to provide a perfect roadmap.
"My mindset now, and even then, was try to look at the future," Humphrey said. "And what it could be if I stayed down and do what I had to do now."
Learn more about mentoring and hiring youth here.