New director for Memphis Office of Youth Services shares plans to better help young people

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Office of Youth Services is under new leadership and working to roll out programs for young people this year.

That includes MPLOY, the city's summer jobs program that pays teens and young adults to work at local non-profits and businesses.

Last year, the program's launch experienced some challenges.

WREG sat down with Ike Griffith, the new man at the helm who was appointed by Mayor Jim Strickland.

"We need to start this process of trying to eliminate this social ill that we have among our students," Griffith said.

Griffith is in the business of molding kids.

He has been a TV broadcast instructor in Shelby County nearly the past two decades.

He explained somewhere along the line, kids in Memphis started falling behind.

"I've already identified the scale is not balanced," he said.

Griffith said he is developing an idea to better serve at-risk or nontraditional students, the kids who stand to gain the most from youth programs.

As it stands now, only about 100 non-traditional students get picked for MPLOY.

Participants are picked in a lottery, based on their City Council districts.

Griffith said he wants to add a separate lottery for non-traditional students in 2017 to increase the number of opportunities.

The City of Memphis launched MPLOY last year.

Between getting businesses to jump on board,  several students missing the necessary documentation, and not hearing back from others selected to participate, its roll out was bumpy.

"That was the one thing that probably slowed the process down for us initially, because we had such a short time frame. This year, we started earlier. We started recruiting businesses earlier. We started recruiting students earlier," said Program Manager Joyce Douglas.

Student application is underway for MPLOY and the Memphis Ambassadors Program, which is a program for student enrichment.

MAP runs year round, while MPLOY only runs for six weeks over the summer.

This year, MPLOY runs from June 6 until July 22.

The office believed the right number of businesses and students will be ready to go on time.

"I want to give incentives to our young people. If you are still employed after the program, we have something for you," Griffith said.

Griffith said he is counting on the community to unify to help Memphis' young people.

The deadline to apply for this year's programs is midnight on Friday.

You may find more information here.

The city will hold a lottery for both programs February 15.!/OYSMemphis/videos/vb.452554418226790/555493201266244/?type=2&theater