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Feb. 14 – Savannah accepting applications from students for ‘Summer 500’ internships, but WHO is lost in the shuffle?

Photo Attached: From left to right, Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Bell, Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Sam McCahern, and Mayor Eddie DeLoach at the kick-off of the Summer 500 internship program.

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Jornal

February 14, 2017 - Applications are now being accepted for the City of Savannah’s 'Summer 500' internship program. The program makes summer internships available to local high school students, age 16 and over, who are currently enrolled in either public or private school. 

Students who are interested are asked to submit an application, which can be found online at the City of Savannah’s website at www.savannahga.gov/summer500. 

According to the City, only the Summer 500 program is being offered this summer.   In the past, the City of Savannah had also funded the Pre-Apprentice Program which focused on ‘at risk’ youth, many of whom were under Court supervision. 

City Manager Rob Hernandez decided to merge the two programs, but in the opinion of some, the outline of who can apply has changed significantly, now only open to those who are actively in high school.

According to those who have been closely involved in the Pre-Apprentice Program over the past four years, including Alderman Van Johnson, they asked the Mayor to merge the two programs as a compromise over confusion in the public’s and the business community’s eyes last summer when Mayor DeLoach created his own, new, 'Summer 500' program ... adding funding for it to the City's already approved operating budget.

But, there wasn’t really a merger, according to Johnson.  And, the planned changes were not discussed with the Council by the City Manager, he adds.  

For the Summer 500 program, internships will pay a minimum of $8 an hour with a minimum of 32 hours a week. Students will be required to pass a pre-employment drug test, and interns will be placed in jobs in the public and private sector.

As of today, approximately 100 jobs have been secured with area companies against the target of ‘500,’ according to Martin Sullivan, Mayor Eddie DeLoach’s Chief of Staff. 

A reception was sponsored by the City of Savannah last Wednesday night for prospective employers, held at the Civic Center.  But, the majority of the Aldermen were not invited, or informed about the event that was hosted by Mayor DeLoach and Mayor Pro Tem Carol Bell. 

It was also not released by the City’s Communications Dept. to the media as a city-wide event for employers, though calls were made to the Chamber of Commerce to invite its members.  Employers who applied or participated last year were also invited.   

The Summer 500 internship program “helps students gain both practical workplace and soft skills necessary to successfully join today’s workforce and secure their career path of choice,”  according to the City. It was a signature initiative of Mayor DeLoach, announced in his first few months in office last Spring.

Information about the Summer 500 program please go to www.savannahga.gov/summer500.

The Former ‘Savannah Pre-Apprentice Program’

The Savannah Pre-Apprentice Program, founded in 2013 under the Mayor Edna Jackson administration, provided academic assistance, life skills development, and job skills training to City of Savannah and Chatham County youth 14 - 17 years old through a seven-week summer program, incorporating hands-on training, mentorship and academic instruction.

It was open to Savannah-Chatham Youth 14-17 years old, whether or not they were in school.  And, they could have a Felony on their record, but had to pass a drug test.

The program also accepted referrals from public, private, and home schooled settings, and from Community Supervision Agencies.

The Summer 500 program is only open to young people who are enrolled in high school, public, private or home-schooled, with no felonies on their record.

They also earned income for all training – funded by the City - and were paid for work hours completed with an outside company or a City of Savannah position. 

It provided participants with a City of Savannah ID Card which offered free bus rides on Chatham Area Transit for all participants to commute for training and work, and included “tailored Financial literacy training and help with opening personal savings account through local credit union or bank,” according to the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Dept. which administers the ‘Savannah Impact’ program.

The City funded ‘team leaders’ “ to assist in this process and will not over burden the employer,” according to the program’s guideline for employers. 

And, participants were paid minimum $7.25/hour and worked an average of 32-hours per week for work and training hours.

“It serves as a “Game-Changer” in the lives of many of the participants!” said Chief Joseph H. Lumpkin, Sr. about the Pre-Apprentice Program, with participants selected by the SCMPD’s Savannah Impact Program.

For the summer of 2015, the Savannah Pre-Apprentice Program Business Partnerships included more than a dozen Savannah and Chatham County businesses who employed more than 60 at risk youth.  According to the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Dept, which administers the Savannah Impact Program, the 2015 business partners included:  Belford’s, City of Savannah, Chatham Personnel, Coca-Cola, Colonial Oil, NorthPoint Hospitality, River Street Inn, Savannah Area Chamber, Savannah Lodging, Thomas & Hutton, Thunderbolt Marine, Visit Savannah, and Wade Law Firm.

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