Teens Sell Snacks for Brighter Future

A nonprofit groups hires local teens to sell snacks

By Chris Chan
|  Monday, Dec 26, 2011  |  Updated 8:54 PM PDT
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Selling concessions at the local stadiums may be a good job for teenagers. But for those who work for the non-profit Juma Ventures, they're getting a chance at building a foundation for the future.

High School Junior Shani Patterson described herself as a trouble maker. 

"I used to get into a lot of stuff," she said. "I used to ditch school, hang out with a lot of the wrong people."

After working at Juma Ventures for a year, she said her attitude changed. 

"I'm focused on my academics, I'm reading, I do my work, I do what I'm supposed to do.  And I didn't used to be like this," said Patterson.

Juma hires teenagers who live in government sponsored housing, have basic math skills and a 2.0 grade point average. Each teen is immediately paired with a counselor who tutors them in school and the college application process. The group said it is the largest year-round employer of youth in San Diego County, managing the sale of some concessions at Qualcomm Stadium and Petco Park. 

Area director Jason Craparo said the key to their employees' success is to set the bar high to improve their chances in the future.

"We set the expectations higher than their parents or even the school administrators may have set. It's not just about getting out of high school, we really want the grades to be high enough to be competitive for scholarships, because that's free money out there for them," he said.

The San Diego Housing Commission also provides a savings matching program. For every dollar they save, they get three more.  That makes Patterson happy. 

"It feels good.  I mean I don't even want to touch it because it feels so good," she aid. "At least I have something for me to set up my life."

Patterson plans to go to San Diego State University and then transfer to an arts school where she wants to develop as a musician.  She was recently recognized by Juma for having the most savings, strong sales and high grades in school.

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