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This Program Connects Boston Teens With Their Community — And Earns Them a Paycheck

ABCD's WorkSMART program is expanding thanks to a grant from the NBA Foundation

NBC Universal, Inc.

Young people in Boston are earning a paycheck, all while making a difference in their own community.

ABCD's WorkSMART program is helping to connect under-resourced teens in Boston and Medford to meaningful internship opportunities in the city with local employers and organizations.

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Now, thanks to a grant from the NBA Foundation, the program is expanding as it quadruples the number of young people it can place into internships over the next next two years.

"We've seen the need grow," President and CEO of ABCD Sharon Scott-Chandler said. "Young people need to be engaged. They need to have in-person relationships, they need to be busy, they need to earn money. And so we've seen more interest from youth and we've seen more interest from work worksite partners over these last several months."

Through WorkSMART, high school freshman Sandley Nicolas helps out at an after school program at the Grove Hall Apartments in Dorchester, which is run by the Institute for Pan African Cultural Education.

"Helping out the kids — that's been the best part," Nicolas said.

Rochelle Chance with PACE runs the after-school program, and said the connections made there benefit both the younger children and WorkSMART interns.

"To have a cohort of young people that move with the energy that the kids that are younger than them need," Chance said. "That's why they're engaged, encouraged, and later on empowered."

The program also allows small organizations such as PACE to have the extra help of these teens, something they say otherwise wouldn't be possible due to limited funding.

"To be able to develop and grow and to hire, particularly teens, you know, and we always want them on board. Right? And so ABCD has been able to allow that to happen," Founder and Executive Director of PACE Dr. Bwanda Albert said.

The next WorkSMART cohort begins on April 3, and at last check, there were still spots available For information on how to apply, click here.

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