GREENSBORO, N.C. — Changing the lives of teens one summer job at a time is the mission behind a new Greensboro police initiative. It comes as the city has reached new record highs for violent crime.
“We do have concerns around our teens,” said Jenny Caviness, the director of community engagement for the Greensboro Police Department. “We know there’s an opportunity to go one way or another.”
The department has a goal to connect 500 high school seniors and juniors to employers offering summer employment. Caviness hopes it will give young people an opportunity to gain experience and set them up for success when they graduate.
The initiative targets areas of Greensboro hit hardest with crime.
“We can take this program and move it around the city and continue to build on top of it as areas experience violence,” Caviness said.
Business owners are already showing interest.
“We really want the community to own the jobs for teens,” she said. “We’re really hoping that this impacts kids who want a different future than maybe what they’re seeing for themselves right now.”
J & S Lawn Maintenance is one of the first businesses to participate in the initiative.
“We’re looking to bring on some young people who aren’t just hungry for money, but hungry for their character to be changed,” said Jayvon Johnson, the owner of J & S Lawn Maintenance and a youth pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Greensboro.
Johnson is looking to hire up to six teens to help care for lawns and willing to learn some life lessons.
“Mentorship and expanding their thought patterns and their ideas to an area of entrepreneurship that maybe they would’ve never considered before,” Johnson said. “They need examples, they need blueprints, they need someone outside their household, outside their community that really shows interest in them and really cares about who they are.”
Caviness told FOX8 this is the first of several community initiatives in the works to prevent crime.
Once employers are vetted Caviness will share the job openings with schools and other agencies. Interested business owners can sign up online or call the Greensboro Police Office of Community Engagement at (336) 373-2636.