Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy a lifeline for teens

FAMU alumnus Willie Williams lead TFLA youth and parent meeting. 
Photo Submitted by Breyanna Holmes.

The City of Tallahassee is giving more than 100 teens a job with different city departments.

Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy (TFLA) held a meeting last week with teens and parents at Smith-Williams Service Center. The meeting informed the community about TFLA’s leadership program that provides teens with mentorship, job readiness training, financial literacy education and summer employment.  

TFLA talent development coordinator Willie Williams shared an overview of the program.

The eight-week program provides eligible youth with the opportunity to work a paid position. This position offers mentorship and guidance by their managers or supervisors. Employment placements are offered through the City of Tallahassee or private organizations around the Tallahassee area.

The employment six-week opportunity with the City of Tallahassee or local organizations allows youth to work a minimum of 20 hours per week at minimum wage. The two-week training opportunity provides job readiness skills through interactive workshops, online training and seminars. The youth will also receive guidance and development through community involvement.  

The seminars focus on personal responsibility and professional growth, technical job skills, financial literacy, responsibility and professional certifications. Teens also receive college exposure through guided university/college tours and information from university personnel on financial aid, scholarships, student life, services and admission requirements.

Williams announced the new partnership with the Tallahassee Police Department and the Fire Department this year.  TFLA coordinators will choose a certain number of students who would spend a day with each department. Each department is responsible for walking the teens through the daily operations.

TFLA is still in the enrollment process. According to Williams there are 330 applications submitted thus far. Applications opened Jan.15 and it close Mar. 15.

“We will base the program on how many jobs we recruit. Once we have all the jobs narrowed down, we will go through our selection process. What happens from that point will be based by the GIS system. The GIS systems will take all of those physical addresses and they’ll run them and match them up with utilities to check which address is within the city and not within the city of Tallahassee and that will eliminate most of the applications from that."

"Then it’ll run again and eliminate anybody that is not 15-19 and anybody that did not complete the ninth grade. Then it’s a random lottery as far as selecting members into the program. The selection process will really start after the application closes next Friday,” said Williams.

Angela Hendrieth, the manager of talent and development, oversees the TFLA program. This program has been in place for five years, and Hendrieth has been in charge of it for three years.  

The program started out with 55 students and it has grown to over 230 students last year. It’s grown from six weeks of employment to two weeks of training and employment. The program now offers college tours, financial literacy training and certifications in CPR, ServSafe and Microsoft Office.

“One of some of the things we want to make sure of is that, when the kids leave us they have some tools and skills so that they are not walking into the work place cold. So we present everything from personal branding to business etiquette to customer service, sexually harassment and ethics training. They get all of that before they leave us and they also get phone numbers, so if they have issues they can call us,” said Hendrieth.

Hendrieth teaches some of the professional development classes.

“It used to be the city’s summer youth employment program, where close to 50 teens would come and work for the city. Then they stopped running it. When Andrew Gillum become mayor he said we need to do something for our youth in the community who don’t have the same opportunities to get summer jobs as other kids,” said Williams.

Gillum started running the program and brought along Williams. Instead of them just working for six week the two expanded it and to included college tours at each of the universities for one full day.

Jobs are offered at the mayor’s office, the airport, utilities and other departments. Private businesses have also stepped in and partnered with TFLA. Local business such as Gaines Street Pies, Krispy Kreme Donuts, AkBar Law Firm, Metz, Florida A&M University, Florida State and Tallahassee Community College all offer jobs through this program.  

The summer program will begin June 3 and end July 27. The city provides free public transportation on StarMetro for all students enrolled in the TFLA program during the summer term.

“There’s no play time, we take their whole summer. But it’s constantly putting in development for them. As far as the workshops, everything is fun for those first two weeks, then work but it’s still time for extracurricular activities they may have going on through the summer,” said Williams.

Tallahassee native Tremaine Hughes serves as the talent development coordinator for the TFLA program. As a teen he did not have the opportunity to participate in the previous Tallahassee Employment Program. TFLA is now structured differently.

“We’ve grown each year by at least 50 students, then we increased to 250. Also, including private business as well as nonprofit business. I’ve seen the growth, as well as people and as well as the product and experience the kids get,” Hughes said.

TFLA is an award winning program. Over the years the program has won three national awards and one international award.

“Help Tallahassee develop their workforce. It’s your responsibility to grow this program. Continue the success and build on to it with what you have,” said Williams.

For more information visit Talgov.com/TFLA.