H Street CDC Summer Youth Program: A Unique Point of View

In summer of 2000, Michael Jackson, a recent high school graduate from Northwest Washington, worked at H Street CDC as part of their Summer Youth Initiative Program. For two and a half months, Michael and nine other high school students worked on a research project exploring the H Street Corridor while gaining practical workplace experience.

As the program came to an end in August of 2000, Michael prepared to enter his first year of college. What he didn’t know was that three years later he would return to H Street CDC, not as a program participant, but as its leader.

For the past 14 years, the H Street CDC Summer Youth Initiative Program, funded in part by LISC, has given high school students the opportunity to gain work experience and learn work application skills. Students are selected from disadvantaged neighborhoods and must have maintained at least a “B” average during the current school year.

Each summer, the program focuses on a particular theme and assigns a large research project based on that theme. In 2003, students examined the nonprofit community in Washington DC. Students also receive golf lessons, computer instruction, and are taught financial management and wealth building.

Michael is now a senior at Howard University with a major in Journalism. Recalling the impact the program had on him he said, “Having to report for work everyday teaches you responsibility- you have to show up every day and work- it prepares you for what lies ahead”.

As the program’s supervisor during summer 2003, Michael was able to develop his leadership skills. “I had to keep the students motivated and keep them going. This experience made me realize that I want to be in management. He adds “I recommend this program to anyone looking to be productive and gain exposure to the workplace.”