NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) -- Thursday was the culmination of a 10-week-long summer program in Newport News that's changing young people's lives.

More than 400 young people completed the Summer Training and Enrichment Program (STEP).

The program introduces young people into the working environment. They get paid work experience, field trips, workshops, financial literacy education, and GED preparation classes.

This year, more than 20 participants were offered a job, compared to 15 last year!

"It is amazing to see how far they've come," said youth and gang violence prevention coordinator MaRhonda Echols. "We hear the stories, 'I didn't think I was going to make it. I didn't think it was possible. I didn't like the work, but now I do.'"

"It's keeping young kids off the streets, and we're doing something with ourselves instead of sitting home and not doing anything," added participant Lacalra Moore.

STEP first began in 2014 with 160 students, and grew to more than 300 students in 2015.

Last year, more than 500 youth and young adults participated in STEP.