VICTORIA -- The B.C. government is launching a $5 million youth employment program that is expected to help employ hundreds of youth this summer.

The program will allow local communities to apply for grants to fund youth-led projects, which could include working for a local charity, trail building, invasive species removal, working at local parks or beach clean-ups.

The B.C. government says that the grants are available to any local government, Indigenous community, non-profit group, environmental organization, employer associations or chambers of commerce that may have a youth-focused work program planned for this summer.

Each grant will provide up to $10,000 per youth working on the project, which can run up to 16 weeks long.

Each youth, between the ages of 15 to 29, will also receive a stipend of up to $2,000 per four-week period.

Besides the stipend, the B.C. government says that youth will receive “work-related skills and experience” that can be applied in future employment or education.

“We recognize that COVID-19 continues to dramatically impact young people’s prospects for work, which they typically use to leverage future job prospects or to pay for their education or training,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training in a statement Monday.

“Now, more than ever, young people are looking for ways to support themselves, while giving back to their communities.”

Each community project is limited to a maximum of 10 participants and must incorporate all provincial health guidelines, like physical distancing.

Youth involved in each project may also receive supports related to the work, including bus passes, personal protective equipment, work boots and child care.

Further information on the youth employment grants can be found here