ANDERSON, Ind. — Manuel Hunt knows what it is like to be a teen in the city during the summer.
“We wanted to do something to get the kids off the streets,” Hunt said. “I got tired of hearing the complaints of kids saying they had nothing to do.”
Hunt, an admissions advisor in the Office of Student Affairs for Ivy Tech Community College, decided the best way to address the problem was to create a free summer program for middle school and high school students.
This summer, Hunt kicked off a pilot course divided into three different areas of concentration depending on the age of the participants. All three programs taught students the value of higher education and financial accountability. The summer school was offered on Saturdays for 10 weeks and kicked off on the first Saturday of June. The program, Hunt said, was advertised on flyers in the community and offered to students through referrals and recommendations.
Getting students to attend a voluntary summer school program, however, created the unique challenge of students who wanted to go to school in the summer. That’s why Hunt decided to pay the students for their attendance.
He named the programs “Earn $ While U Learn.”
“Kids are motivated by money,” said Carolyn Davis. “I think it motivated them to come and sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Carolyn Davis enrolled her youngest daughter Joyclyn Davis, 15, in the program. Carolyn Davis said she is disappointed there are not more programs like the one created by Hunt.
“I found it very interesting,” she said. “I want my daughter to keep her options open. It’s her life; I just want to give her the most options out there, that I can.”
A total of 30 students were enrolled in the program this summer. Junior high students were paid $10, freshmen were paid $25 and sophomores were paid $35 if they attended all 10 weeks. The Anderson/Madison County Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. provided the initial funding for the programs, but Hunt said they have since received a number of private donations and sponsorships.
Joyclyn Davis, who is a sophomore at Anderson High School, said the program was so good she would have attended even if she had not been paid.
“I really liked it,” Joyclyn Davis said. “It was fun to learn about what I can do to save up for college, but I also got to go to the Black Expo and interact with other people my age.”
Mindy Schaefer enrolled her sons Dylan, 11, and Rylan, 14, and said she knows her boys were excited about the program after talking with an Army recruiter.
“I’m sure they would much rather be out riding their bikes, but they had fun,” she said. “They actually learned something over the summer.”
Jackquella Jones saw the program advertised on a flyer posted in a local dry cleaning business. When she learned Hunt was behind the program she enrolled her stepson, Joseph, 12.
“When I told him about it he was unhappy,” Jones said of her stepson’s initial reaction. “Then he got to the point where he could not wait for Saturdays.”
The positive reaction from the participants has encouraged Hunt to offer the program throughout the school year. The next program will be offered September 21.
“Something had to be done and we had a building available here at Ivy Tech,” Hunt said. “I am very pleased with the program.”
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