Step Up to Work program pays Fort Myers teens for real-world experience

Author: Haley Zarcone
Published: Updated:

Working is probably not a teenager’s idea of a fun summer, but the City of Fort Myers’ Step Up to Work program gave several teens a chance to earn valuable real-world experience.

“For me to be able to get this experience and able to actually get money from it is really good,” said Tori Fulcher, a freshman at Fort Myers High School.

Tori does have some company: She’s one of 36 students who earned their way into the City of Fort Myers’ Step Up to Work program. They get paid $15 hourly not just to work in an office setting but also at the STARS Complex, with kids at summer camp, with Parks and Recreation, with the Fort Myers Police Department and the Fort Myers Fire Department.

“The objective of the program is really to assist the young people so that you can be prepared for work, for employment,” said Marvlyn Scott, director of human resources and risk management for the City of Fort Myers.

The program starts with a commitment: 32 hours per week. This year, 159 kids applied.

Eighth grader Janaya Broomfield told WINK News she’s not the only one happy she made the cut, so are her parents.

“Now I can get the things that I want and stuff that I actually need and not have to, like run off Mommy-Daddy money,” Janaya said.

The money matters, but the students in Step Up to Work are also meant to learn new habits that will serve them well when the opportunity comes to work full-time.

“Responsibility—I’m pretty much just focusing on what’s going on in that moment,” Tori said.

“This job has taught me, like, responsibilities,” Janaya said. “Yeah, and also it showed me what is kind of… a feel of what it’s like out there when you’re an adult… in the real world.”

On Monday night, the Fort Myers City Council honored the 36 teenagers in the program, each one of them feeling better off for giving up seven weeks of summer in exchange for an experience that may prove to be priceless.

The City of Fort Myers set aside $130,000 to pay for the Step Up to Work program.

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