Our Summer With Grow Detroit’s Young Talent

Grand Circus is proud to be involved in the 2016 Grow Detroits Young Talent program

At Grand Circus, we’re always looking for new ways to put Detroit first. That’s why we jumped headfirst into the opportunity to be involved in this year’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program (GDYT), which helped employ more than 8,000 youth this summer.

Now wrapping up its third year, GDYT connected Detroit youth aged 14-24 with six weeks of valuable paid work experience, professional development and skills training to help set them up for future success. With over 200 employers and 600 job sites, the program offered participants a wide range of experiences and a first-hand look at how businesses operate in the city. Over the six weeks, interns received anywhere from $8.00-$9.25/hour for 20 hours a week at the workplace with an additional 12 hours of professional development.

Now you may be asking yourself, “where does our coding bootcamp magic come in to all of this?”

As part of the program, a group of 45 GDYT participants attended coding workshops facilitated by Grand Circus and hosted at Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center. Over the course of six weeks, GDYTers learned the basics of HTML, CSS and Javascript in addition to career and professional training received from GDYT.

Grand Circus is proud to be involved in the 2016 Grow Detroits Young Talent program

“They were a little shaky at the beginning,” said Cydney Hill, a teaching assistant for the program and intern at Grand Circus. “But as the course went on they started to open up. When they were given freedom to create, they really started to come out of their shell.”

What was truly amazing about this coding cohort was their ability to pick up on programming concepts that even adults struggle with. “People often underestimate what youth can understand,” said Grand Circus’ Director of Community Programs, Chioke Mose-Telesford, who helped facilitate the program. “[The GDYT students] were on par with adults in some of the same concepts.”

In just six weeks, our GDYTers went from little or no coding experience to making their own website. They even learned to code customizable resumes they can use for future college and job applications. Not too shabby, right?

Grand Circus is proud to be involved in the 2016 Grow Detroits Young Talent program

But our summer fun with GDYT didn’t stop with coding activities. We had the opportunity to host our very own GDYT intern for six wonderful weeks. He quickly became a valuable part of our team and a beloved member of the GC family. Who is this mystery man you ask?

Meet Landon Borrego, a participant in this year’s GDYT program and our own intern extraordinaire. Prior to this Grand Circus is proud to be involved in the 2016 Grow Detroits Young Talent program summer, Landon interned part time with us while attending classes at Detroit Cristo Rey High School. That’s why we were thrilled to have him back back this summer as a part of GDYT!

During his time in the program, Landon did everything from give Grand Circus tours to work the front desk and help maintain our award-winning space. But his favorite task of the summer was helping to plan an after-work social mixer that attracted tech professionals from around metro Detroit! “It was cool to take a potential idea and make it happen,” Landon said.

And make it happen he did. With the help of the other Grand Circus interns and staff, Landon put together a heavily attended event and made plenty of connections along the way!

But Landon’s summer of awesomeness didn’t stop there. Together with a group of interns from other Detroit Venture Partner (DVP) portfolio companies, Landon helped put together a plan to improve the GDYT experience in future years. The group even collected data and survey results from their GDYT coworkers and pitch their ideas to GDYT, DVP and Grand Circus staff. Among their recommendations were improving registration efficiency and more frequent communication between program leadership and participants.

While we’re sad to see this summer’s GDYT program draw to an end, we couldn’t be more proud of everything its participants have accomplished over these six weeks. With a 46% increase in enrollment from last year’s program, GDYT continues to grow and connect young people with valuable experience and connections. We can’t wait to see what next summer has in store!

What to be a part of next year’s Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program? Learn how you can get involved.

Interested in learning to code? Find the right course for you:

Learn About Grand Circus classes