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Detroit youth summer jobs program boosts graduation rates, lowers absences

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A summer jobs program is providing kids in Detroit with more than just a paycheck.

That's according to researchers at the University of Michigan. They found the "Grow Detroit's Young Talent" program also boosts participants' academic performance.

The program gives Detroit youth a variety of summer employment opportunities including child care, counseling younger peers, volunteering with seniors, and clerical work.

Brian Jacob is with the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He says kids who participated in the program were more likely to graduate high school compared to kids of similar race, gender, and high school performance who didn't participate.

“This was particularly true for young people who enter high school with the lowest academic performance,” he said.

Researchers also found program participants were less likely to be chronically absent.

Jacob says the study is an encouraging first look at the program.

“I think it suggests that the program may be able to increase engagement with school and motivation among youth,” he said.

Jacob says university researchers will continue working with the city of Detroit to track outcomes of program participants.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.
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