“It was a great experience, and I learned a lot. Among other things, I learned how to use various software programs, improved my time management and organization skills, and learned how to work with other adults,” said Raneka Frazier, who worked as an intern in the Valdosta Main Street and Public Information Offices. Raneka is enrolled in Dalton State College where she will pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in early childhood education. The majority of the graduating GPP students have either been accepted into a college or university or have made plans to join the military.
The City of Valdosta employs 17 of the 26 participating GPP students in the Valdosta-Lowndes County area and was the first municipality in Georgia to participate in the statewide initiative. Through the program, which is gaining momentum across the city and state, students gain real-world experience and job training while also earning a paycheck. The internships, funded through the City of Valdosta's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, have positively impacted the city’s mission without negatively impacting the city’s budget.
In Valdosta, the GPP’s partnering school is VHS. During the school year, the GPP students work part-time in various departments of the city while also balancing their academic and extra-curricular schedules. The students who are not graduating this year will remain in the program for the next school year.
"We're proud that the City of Valdosta and Valdosta High School were selected as community participants in 2013 as one of the first municipalities to utilize this program in the state of Georgia," said City Manager Larry Hanson. “The GPP program is beneficial not only for the student interns but also for city department personnel, who have enjoyed the helpful assistance these students have provided in the day-to-day operations of the city."
Mayor John Gayle says the program is a promising tool for both the city and its youth.
"We are committed to fulfilling the GPP's long-standing goal of keeping youth in school, building a bridge to success and creating a skilled workforce for the community—a goal that truly has long-lasting community benefits," said Mayor Gayle. “We wish our graduating seniors a fulfilling and successful career and future.”
For more information about the GPP program, visit http://gppartnership.org.