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SWOP 2020 Youth Community Service Award

Calling all 11 to 14 year-olds!  This summer the Summer Work Outreach Project challenges YOU to find ways to serve your community and earn the chance to win a $25 award!

For 24 years the Summer Work Outreach Project has offered a six-week program for eleven to fourteen year-olds from Chisholm, Eveleth-Gilbert, Mt. Iron-Buhl, and Virginia who want to work for their community while learning life skills and earning a stipend.  However, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the SWOP board decided it would be safest to cancel the 2020 summer program.

While the regular summer program is cancelled, we still encourage youth to learn and practice some of the important life skills and values that SWOP works to instill in them. In addition to the four school districts previously served by our regular summer program (Chisholm, Eveleth-Gilbert, Mt. Iron-Buhl, Virginia), this opportunity is currently being extended to youth residing in the school districts of Hibbing, Mesabi East, and St. Louis County Schools (ISD 2142). To find out more about applying for the SWOP Youth Community Service Award view the application below.

*NOTICE: The SWOP board made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 SWOP summer program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the April 15 board meeting, it was decided that “In the interest of public health and for the safety of our youth participants, volunteers, staff, and their families the Summer Work Outreach Project 2020 summer program will be cancelled.”

A brief history

SWOP is a town-based program on the Iron Range in Minnesota. It has been in existence since 1998. SWOP “hires” teams of 11 to 14 year olds for its six week summer program of teaching life skills through community work, community service, community guest speakers, and adult mentoring. Youth learn money management through receiving a weekly stipend.

SWOP maintains a high adult to youth ratio of about 5 youth to 1 adult. The program has been in existence in Mt. Iron and Buhl since 1998. Chisholm joined in 2007 and a fourth site was launched in the community of Virginia in 2012. In 2018, Mt. Iron and Buhl were combined into one site and a new site was added for Eveleth/Gilbert.

All SWOP youth help with the AEOA Senior Carnival

Life skills

The whole of SWOP is about life skill development. Every specific skill that is presented gets reinforced through the work and interactions of the day.  Guest speakers from the community may relate to the specific life skill being presented each week, or their topic may simply expand community awareness. Learning to introduce oneself to guest speakers, as well as listen to, and interact with them is itself a primary area of life skill development in SWOP.

SWOP youth help garden at the AEOA Youth Foyer community garden

Youth Development

The primary purpose of SWOP is its impact on the youth who participate. Although it is impossible to measure this impact (especially without long term contact), throughout the program we build in opportunities for the youth, the staff, and their peers to set goals for their own development, affirm their contributions and assets, and evaluate their progress.

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