The kids get a really bad rap in the KCMO School District. You hardly hear a peep about them unless the TV news is covering their bad test scores or the times when a fight draws police to their campuses.
So I was glad to see KMBC Channel 9's cameras, among others, filming as young people ages 15-22 came streaming through the doors of the convention center as early as six this morning to check out the fifth annual Bright Future Employment Fair. Six of the metro's school districts are on spring break, so they didn't have to play hooky to attend. A few of the schools still in session, like Catholic schools Archbishop O'Hara and Cristo Rey, bussed kids in to take part in today's job fair.
Thalia Cherry, the city's Youth Advocate Manager, rushed around the convention center floor making sure everything went smoothly. If the kids looked extra sharp and confident in suits and fancy shoes, clutching folder-bound resumes, Cherry is one to thank.
Earlier this year, Cherry and her interns from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Park University visited kids at 11 Kansas City high schools to go over skills like how to write a resume, what to wear to a job hunt and how to market oneself to potential employers. Cherry even had kids participate in mock job interviews to get used to the process. And if she found out that anyone lacked the proper interview attire, she hooked them up with clothing donations from her church.
Cherry told me that in a tough economic year when lots of youth-related jobs are taken by out-of-work adults, this job fair becomes even more crucial to kids, some of whom have very adult responsibilities.
"I was talking to a girl from Southeast High School who was working two part-time jobs," Cherry said. "I was like, wow, you're an overachiever! But she told me, 'My mom got sick, and now I have to take care of the family.' Now she's a senior, and she's here looking for full-time employment."
I was pleased to see that so many city departments hire local kids for the summer. Cherry told me that she's seen the kids who land internships in City Hall blossom from shy and skittish to proud and capable in no time. "I think there are two areas that are crucial for a city's quality of life: education and employment," she says. "And if we don't wrap our arms around these issues, we won't have a tax base."
A full list of employers from today's job fair is after the jump:
ADT Security Services,
American Lung Association,
The Call, Central Community Cadet,
Children's Mercy Hospital,
3-1-1 Action Center,
Capital Improvements Management Office,
City Communications Office,
City Manager's Office,
City Planning and Development Department,
Conventions and Entertainment Facilities,
Human Relations Office,
Information Technology Department,
Neighborhood and Community Services Department,
Office of International Affairs and Trade,
Parks and Recreation Department,
Public Works Department,
Water Services Department,
Youth Advocacy Office,
Federal Reserve Bank,
Full Employment Council,
Garrison Community Center,
Greater Kansas City Boys & Girls Club,
Greater Kansas City Building Trades,
Greater Kansas City Community Foundation,
Hillcrest Community Center,
Hyatt Regency Crown Center,
JE Dunn Construction Company,
John Knox Village,
Kansas City Freedom Schools,
Kansas City Marriott Hotels,
Kansas City Power & Light,
Kansas City Young Audiences,
Kansas City Zoo,
Marlborough Community Center,
Mazuma Credit Union,
Mid-America Minority Business Development Council,
Palestine Freedom School,
Partnership for Children,
Saint Luke's Health Systems,
Southeast Community Center,
University of Missouri - Kansas City,
Walton Construction Company,
YMCA of Greater Kansas City