John Marshall students learn real world small business skills in landscaping
by Ian Heisey
Many young people get their first job experience cutting lawns for neighbors, but through a partnership with Cleveland Youth Landscaping this summer three John Marshall students are also learning entrepreneurship, financial literacy and teamwork.
John Marshall School of Civic and Business Leadership has partnered with Cleveland Youth Landscaping, to employ youth ages 14 to 18 to do landscaping for senior citizens in the Glenville neighborhood, in a pilot program to equip the youth with skills and knowledge to be brought back to West Park to benefit neighbors here in the Spring of 2017.
Alex Johnson, an ivy league college graduate and founder of Cleveland Youth Landscaping, recently received a “Difference Maker Award” from the Cleveland Cavaliers and was recognized on the court during halftime in March.
The three students from John Marshall have teamed up to work alongside the 31 students in the Glenville neighborhood and are paid $9 an hour for about 8 hours per week, and they also get teambuilding training and help with communication skills, as well as hear from guest speakers about entrepreneurship and potential career paths. They work in teams of about seven. The service is provided free to Glenville senior citizens and next year will be available to West Park seniors.
The John Marshall pilot program is supported by the Cleveland Foundation and will provide lawnmowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, rakes and gloves for the program.
Monisa Mason, the community and business coordinator at JMH School of Civic and Business Leadership, is overseeing the pilot program and says she is excited to see John Marshall Civic and Business students eventually spearhead the Cleveland Youth Landscaping program here on the west side.
“This will be a great opportunity for them to get hands on work experience, while learning many skills such as leadership development, how to work effectively and efficiently as a team and what it means to have a great work ethic,” Mason said. “This also will afford them the opportunity to better connect with the local community, which is very important as we aim to teach our students about the importance of community awareness and engagement.”
Josh Ethridge who will be a sophomore next year at John Marshall, said he enjoys learning how to use lawn equipment and his favorite task is using the weed eater. If it were not for this job he would be mostly playing basketball this summer. His co-worker Julio Silva, said he would like to own his own business someday, and that they are also learning about teamwork.
“You have to communicate to get the job done.” Silva said. “As long as you work together it will help out a lot.”
Luis Rivera, who will be a junior this year at John Marshall, said the training has helped a lot. “I like working with my hands,” he said, adding that and in the future he would like to work in some job that helps improve properties. “When people make their house presentable it makes an area look better.”
Karen Black, an administrative assistant at JMH School of Civic and Business Leadership and supervisor for the pilot program, said the program is off to a good start.
“They boys are doing great,” she said. They are getting along and meeting new friends and are getting that experience of the real working world.”
For more information, visit: www.clevelandyouthlandscaping.com or check out the JMH School of Civic and Business Leadership website at: www.clevelandmetroschools.org/page/885. See their fundraising page at :
www.donorschoose.org and search for “West Cleveland Youth Landscaping. If your donation to their training is made by August 1st, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match your donation amount.
Update: The students met their fundraising goal, but you can still give at www.donorschoose.org.