Hundreds of Western Alaska Youth Employed Through Coastal Villages’ Youth-to-Work Program
ANCHORAGE, AK – Hundreds of youth from across Western Alaska were put to work this summer through Coastal Villages Region Fund’s “Youth-to-Work” (YTW) program, according to numbers released by the company this week.
During June and July, 698 young Alaskans from the CVRF region were hired through the YTW program, which has played a vital role in providing opportunities to an area of the state where unemployment runs high and job opportunities are limited. This represents a 23 percent increase in over last year’s YTW program, which employed 569 youth from the region. The program ended in early August, with over $516,000 in wages paid to the 698 individuals who participated.
“Over the last several years I have worked for the CVRF Youth-to-Work program, which has been a great opportunity,” said Waylon Buckles of Chefornak. “It wasn’t just a great opportunity for me but also for all the other teens and elders that participated. It gave us the chance to work during the summer to earn spending money for food, gas, stove oil, and other necessities. I am fortunate that CVRF helps teens get jobs during the summer and thankful for all the other programs they offer.”
Over the past 10 summers, the YTW program and CVRF’s partnership with dozens of local organizations across Western Alaska have made it possible for CVRF to place youth at job sites in each of its member communities. Youth also worked with 59 YTW instructors from the region gathering subsistence foods for elders, learning how to mend fish nets, making Yupik crafts, and other traditional life skills.
CVRF’s youngest employees learn how to meet basic professional work expectations, such as being on-time, providing good customer service, developing positive and professional relationships, and accepting the roles and responsibilities of a typical employee.
“YTW taught me how to make projects that aren’t taught at home,” said Aatkii Boyscout of Chevak. “Things can be done in so many ways, especially with teamwork.”
Aatki made her own qaspeq and beaded bracelets and participated with job shadowing at Chevak Traditional Council and Chevak Company Corporation.
“I began working for Coastal Villages Region Fund in 2013 when I was 14 years old,” said Regina Therchik of Toksook. “I was in the Youth-to-Work Program in the Summer of 2013 and 2014. I planned to work as a YTW employee during the Summer 2015 session if I had not gotten accepted into the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Rural Alaska Honors Institute. During my senior year at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, I applied for the CVRF Louis Bunyan Memorial Scholarship along with an intern position in the corporate office in Anchorage and was accepted for both. I am currently attending my first year of college at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, studying psychology and biology.”
CVRF’s goal with the YTW program is to engage youth with the benefits of employment, and in turn positively affect the youth to increase school attendance, reduce dropout rates, and increase the likelihood of young people taking advantage of CVRF’s scholarship and internship opportunities as well as CVRF’s newest college immersion program, Ciuneq, which is a Yupik word meaning “the path or way forward.”
“Vision, curiosity, and determination are critical elements of our region’s push toward economic independence,” said CVRF’s Community Benefits Manager, Nathaniel Betz. “The YTW program provides the next generation of leaders in our communities with a rare opportunity to put those qualities into practice at a young age. We are proud of the thousands of youth who have participated in this program over the years. Their collective effort has made our company, our communities, and our region stronger.”