YouthWork UP is known for its summer projects, but this year they will be busy throughout the winter time. Crew Leader Kevin Weir says that in June, July, and August the program has upwards of 80 participants, all paid up to $15 per hour. There are tuition benefits on top of that. It is organized through Americorps and Child and Family Resources of Northwest Michigan.
YouthWork is best known for being civic minded in nature. In the Copper Country you might see them clearing brush at the Quincy Mine or doing facade and maintenance work on historic structures. They partner with the national forests in other parts of the Upper Peninsula to repair boardwalks and make other improvements. Weir says the best part of the job is being able to see the tangible progress being made.
Weir says that the biggest thing he notices about participants in the program is the realization that they are capable of more than they originally thought.
YouthWork UP is open to anyone from the age of 17 to 26 and generally requires at least 20 hours per week. Crews operate between two and six members with a leader to oversee the project. YouthWork is involved with the efforts of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, the Houghton County Land Bank, and the Village of Calumet to fortify older homes and storefronts that will one day be sold off to developers for rehabilitation.