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COLUMBIA - A group of fourteen teenagers attended the art class at Amory Sports Center on Friday afternoon. Unlike normal art classes, they are paid to be artists.

The Art Gallery Program is a component of the Career Awareness Related Experience (C.A.R.E.) program in Columbia, which has served Columbia's youth since 1982. This year, the program partnered with 88 active employers and help 175 kids ages from 14 to 18 find paid jobs over the summer.

Besides helping youth find jobs, C.A.R.E. program added two new classes this year: professionalism, and budgeting and personal finance. The program supervisor, Kara Kort, said they are really looking forward to have some classes to help the youth improve their career skills.

"We feel like those two areas could be utilized for the youth we serve," Kort said.

The program received about 300 applications this year and 175 youth eventually got summer jobs through interviews. Kort said they noticed a new trend that there was an increase of "older applicants", who are 17 and 18 years old.

"They have trouble finding work on their own, just because of the economy right now, so they would actually turn to us for our summer employment," Kort said.

But to those "older applicants", the interviewees cared more about what their future career goals and educational goals are.

People who enrolled in this program attended for the job orientations before they started to work. And in order to keep them working well, the job coaches meet them at least weekly to ensure they have healthy relationships with their job supervisors.

Susan Wood is the C.A.R.E. Gallery Coordinator. She said many many of the students want to be artists in the future, but some do not.

"I don't really look for the most talented artists when I'm interviewing and choosing whom I'm going to hire this summer, I mostly talk to the youth about the interest in art," Wood said.

Megan Kelly is 15 years old. It is her second year being in this program. She is really excited about getting paid to be an artist.

"I've really enjoyed it, it's been a lot of fun, I've got to do a lot of different projects and stuffs, I've learned so much about art and just different types of medias you can use to do different types of art and I just really enjoyed my experience here," Kelly said.

All the art the students did for the class will be on sale at P.S.Gallery on August 4th from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The profit will go back to the C.A.R.E. program.

Starting next year, C.A.R.E. program is going to partner with Youth Partner Zone so that they could have their work supervisors trained to be mentors as well. It aims at youth will not only get supports from their job coaches, but from their job supervisors as well.