HYPE youth program teaches job skills, financial literacy and mentorship

While some kids focus on getting away from school for the summer, a special group of students in Hamilton is focusing on learning new skills outside of the classroom.

HYPE, an acronym that stands for Hamilton Young People Empowered, is now in its seventh year, according to program CEO Pastor Shaq Mathews.

The eight-week summer program finished Thursday with 55 students receiving a certificate of completion.

Mathews said the summer program is tailored toward teaching middle and high school students about job skills, financial literacy, mentoring and being empowered.

“When you get to the moment of handing the certificates out, you see how excited the kids are,” Mathews said. “The parents are here, the community is here to support these kids. It’s just such an exciting moment that every year is a new experience. It’s worth all the time, effort, the fundraising, organizing, planning, the hours that go into it.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

For student-worker Lotus Emison, the program provided an opportunity to learn new skills she hadn’t previously learned throughout high school.

“I learned things about saving money that nobody at school taught me,” she said. “I learned how to invest in a future me, which I wish I knew a few years ago when I was going on to do college.”

Emison said she appreciated how many people went out of their way this summer to teach the students.

“If I’m willing to, there’s a lot more for me in the world. I don’t come from a great area — don’t come from a great family, it didn’t matter,” Emison said. “But here at HYPE, I got to be who I wanted. I have come with now have a job. I have another job lined up because I met someone here.”

Ja’ron McCloud is going into his freshman year of high school this year.

“As much as we’re having fun there is so much we’re learning — learning about our future, how to budget money,” McCloud said. “For my age, I’m proud to learn about that. I’m going into high school, I need to know about this.”

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller and City Manager Joshua Smith discussed how proud they were of the group.

“It just makes everyone stronger. I appreciate the fact, the last eight weeks, you’ve taken the time to actually see Hamilton,” Smith said.

With the summer program now done, Mathews said they now turn their attention to an after-school program that will help students study and provide tutoring.

Mathews said anyone interested in helping the program, volunteering, or having their child take part in the program, can email HypeHamilton18@gmail.com.

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