Empowering Youth for Work, and Life

Our Youth Crew from Summer 2015

Last year, proportion of teenagers who worked was at its lowest rate since World War II. Sure, this may be because they have grown lazier or more passive, but it also has to with more competition and fewer available jobs. Either way, we have a responsibility to equip the next generation for success in the workforce.

It’s not that our youth aren’t talented, or don’t have access to more knowledge and education than ever before. The problem isn’t work skills, but work “soft skills.”

Employers think the majority of young workers do not have the soft skills needed for success:

“Managers have an overall negative view of young workers, and point to their lack of soft skills regarding communication and interpersonal interactions, time management abilities and willingness to work as a team.”

Meeting the Need

We at Mill Village Farms recognize this problem among the youth in our neighborhoods and in the greater Greenville (SC) community. Therefore, we hire teenagers (38 in 2015, with plans for close to 60 in 2016), giving many of them their first jobs. And we hold them to professional standards, teaching them the importance of appearance, communication, work ethic, and more.

More than that, we teach classes in entrepreneurship and personal finance, geared specifically for teenagers. And last year, we implemented a program called Powered for Life, in which 15 teenagers learned the importance of soft skills and having a vision for their life, over a 16-week period.

About 70% of the teenagers in this program came from neighborhoods in downtown Greenville, what many have called the Unseen Greenville. Since many of them are lacking other connections and resources, we have been able to give them the opportunity they desperately need.

With the success of this program, we decided to grow it — to three locations and opening it up to over 40 teenagers. But we can’t do it alone.

We are a part of a community that cares.


This year, dozens of neighbors and community members have committed to supporting our Powered for Life program.

  1. At the three locations, 9 adults will be teaming up to teach the curriculum.
  2. Fourteen adults have already signed up to be mentors, showing the youth they care by showing up, engaging them during the class, and checking-in mid-week.
  3. At least 10 others will come in during two different sessions to help our youth practice their interviewing skills.
  4. Meals will be provided each week over the 16-week period. These are being covered primarily by individuals and church groups.
  5. Generous community members have made financial donations to our non-profit, to cover the cost of curriculum and materials. (We’d gladly accept yours, too.)

From childhood to college, our youth need these soft skills so that they can have success in life and in work. The great part is, we get to be a part of a community who will equip and empower them for life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about what we are doing.

PS — At the least, if you like what we are doing, will you click the little heart below? Thanks!!

PPS — We believe that responsibility isn’t given. It’s earned. Read more here.

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