Family Focus: Mayor Foxx's internship program creates endless possibility for Charlotte's youth

This summer, more than 70 local companies are hosting high school students for paid internships.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This summer, more than 70 local companies are hosting high school students for paid internships.

That number makes it the largest group of companies to participate since the mid '80s, when Charlotte began the Mayor's Youth Employment Program.

Eyewitness News anchor Erica Bryant spoke with a teen mother who is participating in the program about how it is helping her.

"(It) has been really amazing," said Jasmine Christmas.

Christmas, 18, lights up when she talks about her 9-month old daughter, Kyla, and art -- the two things she loves the most. She even drew her daughter as a baby super hero.

Christmas was offered an internship at the Mint Museum. She plans to use the drawing as an example while she teaches children during the Comic Strip Camp.

"It allowed me to see different fields in art as far as curator, graphic designer," explained Christmas. "It just shows me there is more to art than I knew before coming into this program."

Christmas is one of more than 300 young people in the Mayor's Youth Employment Program. Her paid position is setting her up to bring her closer to her passion and dreams.

"I've been through a lot of tragedies in my life, and art has helped me express those things by giving me an outlet," Christmas said. "Instead of doing something negatively, acting out in school or in the community, I go to my paintbrush."

Foxx wants to connect more teens to their passions and what inspires them.

"When a child has nothing to lose, that is the most dangerous kid on the planet," said Foxx.

He said it is a top priority to expand the program every year.

"We're going to have to do more to reach out to our young people, to connect them to their ambitions, and hopefully that will, from a motivation standpoint, move them through doing well in school and in life," said Foxx.

It is a strategy that seems to be working for the rising artist.

"Meeting the artists, doing exhibitions … It could open a job opportunity or anything for me. Friendships, mentors -- so this opportunity has been really amazing," exclaimed Christmas.

Bank of America donated $100,000 this year so that more students could have paid internships at nonprofits.