Prince George's program offers college, career preparations

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY (WJLA) - At just 16 years old, Alexis Proctor is learning skills to take her to college and beyond.

“I really feel like this is preparing me for life,” says Proctor. “Like right now, I feel like I’m ahead of where most students in high school are.”

She’s one of more than 450 Prince George’s County students working in the Summer Youth Enrichment Program, a full-time, six-week paid internship.

“As the arts expert I created the logo and design of the website,” Proctor says.

She and her team work in the IT department. They practiced the presentation they will give for county officials Friday.

About one-third of the students admitted to the program come from high-risk areas. The idea is to get kids off the streets, into a career, and help them collect a paycheck in the process.

Sandra Longs works with the students and says the results are obvious.

“They’re so engaged in their project and they’re so much more confident in themselves now,” she says.

Over the past two decades, funding for the program has fluctuated. In 2013, the program received about $450,000, down from about $680,000 in 2012. The County Council on Wednesday passed new legislation that would allow for private donations and requesting to expand the program’s funding to $900,000.

“So instead of a six-week program we might have a 12-week program with two sets of kids that have the opportunity to work for the six weeks and earn an income,” Longs says.

That means even more kids like Darren Sims will have the chance to save for college. Sims will be a sophomore next year and already worries about paying for college.

“I feel great about making money for school and saving up,” Sims says.

This year, positions were limited to government jobs, but next summer, organizers hope to connect students with private sector businesses.