COVID Corps employment program

Montgomery County, Maryland (population 1.05 million), is the most populous county in Maryland and home to the National Institutes of Health and the Walter Reed Medical Center.  Topping the list of jobs in the county are professional, scientific, technology, health care, social assistance, and public administration.  The median age of residents is 39 and the median household income is $108,188, with 7 percent of residents in poverty.  It has a diverse population with 43 percent White, 18 percent Hispanic, 18 percent African American, and 14 percent Asian.  Parks are numerous, including Glen Echo Park and portions of Rock Creek Park and the C & O canal.

As summer jobs evaporated for young people in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montgomery County established a COVID Corps employment program for youth aged 16-23 years old. The county received over 1,300 applicants in the first week it advertised the program and hired 120 young people to work over the summer, with a few continuing to work in September. They were paid $14 an hour and worked at COVID-19 testing centers, at outdoor swimming pools, and in support of recovery efforts. 

Some helped register people for COVID tests, while others delivered meals to older residents. Those working as transit ambassadors for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) monitored its pilot e-scooter program.  They made sure scooters were properly parked in the Silver Spring District and reported their observations of the program back to MCDOT.

Carmen Berrios Martinez, spokesperson for Montgomery County Recreation, observed that the COVID Corps gave opportunities to young people to work over the summer.  “As we know, a lot of our young people don’t just earn money for their own spending, but they really help their families with the day-to-day obligations they have,” she said.

Mekdelawit Wilson, a senior at Montgomery Blair High School, said that the experience taught her to be flexible, entering data into a computer one day and meeting with people another day.  The job was unlike her previous work as a camp counselor and gave her the opportunity to help her community, rather than just sitting at home.

All participants received training in a variety of subjects, including customer service, resume writing, teamwork, and excellence in the workplace

Learn more about COVID Corps.