There's a holiday bonus in store for youth who go to work helping their villages. A $100 or more bonus is what the 640 youth in the Coastal Villages Region Fund’s "Youth to Work" program can look forward to this Christmas season.
CVRF's board of directors set aside $100,000 for the bonuses. Michelle Humphry, CVRF’s community outreach director, says that the group has been working hard, and the board wanted to acknowledge that.
“These are employees aging from 14 to 19 who, during their summer vacation, that sacrifice sleeping in to come to work every day, and learn new skills, learn from Elders, and also do community service projects," said Humphry. "Their hard work and effort did not go unnoticed, and I think our board of directors really wanted them to know that.”
For 11 years, the Community Youth to Work program has provided jobs for the region’s youth. It does not place young people in the fishing industry, the source of the funds that fuel Community Development Quota Groups like CVRF. Instead, the youth are paid to work in villages on various community programs.
“And that can be working in Coastal Villages community service centers,” said Humphry. “It could be performing service projects like gathering food for Elders. Some of the other community projects that happened this summer were making name plates for each of the houses in the community or a welcome sign for the communities. It could be shadowing other workers in organizations in their communities. And one of the core pieces that exists in all the communities is producing traditionally inspired and currently relevant crafts and expertise that they learn from Elders and experts in their communities. We do treat it like a job.”
Coastal Villages Region Fund was one of several Community Development Quota groups set up by federal legislation designed to direct a portion of the wealth from Alaska’s offshore fisheries toward economic development in the state’s coastal communities.