CFSS youth employment was notably unique. Unlike many of the other summer y
outh employment placements that required youth to perform the traditional sum
s such as community clean up, gardening, and office work etc., the Center for Self-Sufficiency "Earn and Learn" program developed a service learning project. The project entailed youth creating a documentary that would serve to change the narrative and the belief systems of others as it relates to youth living within the 53206 zip code.
Over the past few years, 53206 has been portrayed in a negative light, especially in the media. However, CFSS and the E&L youth workers endeavored to counter this narrative by highlighting youth in the community who strive to achieve success despite their challenging environments. The Center for Self-Sufficiency partnered with 371 Productions to teach youth film
sics and create a high quality professional documentary that would accomplish the narrative
The Center for Self-
not only allowed the E&L youth to have a job placement for the summer, but they also provided the youth with transferable skills that can be applied later in their lives.
The job placement lasted 6 weeks. Throughout this timeframe, the youth participated in several workshops with 371 Productions representatives, Colin Systma and Santana Wilson. During the first week, CFSS youth supervisors facilitated workshops on team and relationship building activities, career readiness, and expectations of a workplace. In week 2, the youth began the
with 371 Productions-they introduced the youth to videography, production and story development. Systma and Wilson presented various
s for discussion to give youth an idea of what a documentary does as well as what goes in to the creation of a documentary.
Subsequently in week 3, the workshop consisted of story producing and outreach. The youth learned about the responsibilities related to filming and were assigned roles for the documentary. 371 Productions trained the youth and imparted knowledge about impact producing, distribution, engagement, interviewing, and film editing.
By week 4, the youth were motivated, committed, and excited about their roles and responsibilities as producers and editors. The youth reveled in learning about editing and how to use the equipment. Systma and Wilson worked with youth on lighting and contrast, and how to use the video camera.
The E&L youth had the opportunity to put that knowledge into action. They conducted interviews at a Sherman Park gathering as a test run; they also interviewed several known community leaders. Each of the youth had the opportunity to display what they had learned during their workshop trainings.
During week 5 the youth reviewed the footage and began to edit and critique the product from the test run wherein they gave up an entire Saturday to fulfill the mission. BY week 6, the youth had developed questions for their final product. Youth recruited several individuals in the community who had the opportunity to answer questions. Interviewees were asked questions related to their lives and how they maintain their motivation to stay positive in spite of what is going on around them.
One of the "Earn and Learn" youth workers, Terrell Taylor expressed his appreciation for the job. He shared that he would rather work this job than hang out on the streets. Another youth worker, Jordan Robinson wrote a letter of gratitude to the staff and praised each of them for the way in which they helped him develop throughout his employment and was grateful for the relationships that he built with each of the staff individually.
Overall, the Center for Self-Sufficiency E&L youth employment was a success. The youth have walked away with skill-sets that will be useful and applicable for a lifetime. This job placement allowed them to work, learn, and have fun while connecting with adults in a working environment. Their documentary will definitely shed some light with the hopes of changing the narrative that it's not all bad in 53206. The overarching take away from this experience was that there is more good than bad in this community!
The documentary project was a complete success thanks to the "Earn and Learn" youth, 371 Productions, and the Center for Self-Sufficiency dedicated staff. Stay tuned for its premiere in the near future.