Clean for Green keeps youth off streets while helping community

INDIANAPOLIS - A local program is working to keep kids off the street by giving them more opportunities for employment -- all while helping the community.

Every summer, Clean for Green hires teens to help clean up parking lots and areas near and around businesses. Operators say the teens come to fill their pockets, but leave with much more.

According to labor statistics, more than 20 percent of teens are unemployed in Indiana. The number is closer to 40 percent for minority teens and city leaders say it is a safety concern.

The teens who get involved with the program know that picking up trash can be an opportunity.

Thanks to Clean for Green, 17-year-old Tevon Lane has a job.

"Very appreciative, it keeps me out of trouble, a lot of unproductive things I could be doing and I'm out here cleaning the community," Lane said. "I just try to stay occupied with extra things and I just needed the extra money."

Pastor James Jackson said there are more teenagers willing to work than there is money to pay them.

"As you can see, they're working really, really hard and we just hope that other business owners will give our youth a chance to get out and clean up the property and do some other things on the property," Jackson said.

AB Investment Properties is giving the teens a chance to tidy up a shopping center near 38th Street and Franklin Road. The company is Clean for Green’s first year-round client.

"It's about hope, purpose there are things that a lot of us would like to purchase and in order to purchase them, you have to have money, and to have money you need a job," Jackson said.

"If they try to, you know, make sure more kids are working, it's less than they could do out here in the streets and they'll be doing something positive instead of going to jail for something negative," Lane said.

Clean for Green is endorsed by the Department of Public Safety and is set to receive more funding thanks to a new summer employment initiative.

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