Nonprofit provides paid youth employees to businesses

Does your business need extra help this summer? Heights businesses that partner with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) give young people a chance to gain skills and develop good work habits.

Each summer, YOU, a nonprofit workforce development organization, employs 1,500 youths, ages 14–19, from economically distressed areas in Cuyahoga County. YOU provides the wages; employers in the Greater Cleveland community, including Cleveland Heights and University Heights, provide meaningful work experiences. A job coach, who visits two to three times a week, is assigned to each work site.  

YOU works with a wide array of partners—nonprofits, government organizations, and private sector businesses—to provide meaningful work experiences for its young participants. During the summer of 2019, a Cleveland Heights church, Imani Temple Ministries, hosted eight youths. They were assigned duties such as maintenance, light housekeeping, and food-bank setup. Imani's Maintenance Director Terrance Ogletree said he enjoyed the experience, and would hire them, given the opportunity.

“Overall the experience was a good one. We had the chance to connect with youth and provide guidance and opportunity to a group of young people who needed it,” said Ogletree. “I met the youth where they were and shared my personal story, which was relatable to them.”

Ogletree’s advice to employers looking to partner with YOU is this: Keep an open mind and remember they are just kids. “They’re typical teens. They need a little guidance. This is a chance for you, as an employer, to give back to your community,” he said.

To learn more, or to register as a YOU summer employer, visit

Missy Toms

Missy S. Toms is vice president of development and communications for Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:29 PM, 02.27.2020