TeenWorks Makes the Dream Work

Started in 1981 by Gene B. Glick and originally named the Pro 100-Program, TeenWorks created a unique opportunity for teenagers in Indianapolis to find jobs and build important life skills. Incorporating self-discipline, a hard day’s work, and giving back to the community into their summer employment opportunities and college readiness program, this nonprofit organization pushes teens in the Indianapolis and Muncie areas to stay motivated and on track for success.

Each TeenWorks student goes through a traditional job interview process; they submit their application and then participate in a formal job interview before being informed about their placement for the summer. TeenWorks offers the summer workers transportation to and from each job along with professional development for them to learn skills valuable in the workforce.

The Harrison Center for the Arts was fortunate enough to host six TeenWorks members for the past six weeks who worked to create songs for the Hip Hoperetta Musical History Tour for the Monon16 area. Kennedi Fuller, Tycorian Roberson, and Nicolas Hignite, students at various Indianapolis high schools, make up half of the dream team that worked here. Their process of creating music for 16th Street began with research. Each member was tasked with learning about places on 16th, like the Dunbar Library and School 26, and conducting interviews with people who live or had lived in the Martindale (16th Street) neighborhood.

Each TeenWorks team member had a different response to their time spent at the HCA. Kennedi Fuller especially enjoyed the interviewing process and the learning the history of the Monon Trail (being a railroad at one point), while making the music “was just a plus.” Tycorian Roberson thoroughly enjoyed learning about the area's past. “I didn’t know we had so much rich history.” A highlight for Nicolas Highnite this summer was learning about the massive effect the development of the Interstate had on one neighborhood.

Each of these teens not only learned a plethora of job skills over the past six weeks, they also gained a greater appreciation for their city and what it means and has meant to people of all ages.