LHHS’ Lauren Baronoskie shows off the tech presentation she created for Merriman Park Elementary

We’ve all heard it. Heck, maybe we’ve even said it. Kids today have it too easy. We had jobs as teens, and working during the summer and after school taught us to be dependable and trustworthy. We learned to value a dollar and plan our time wisely, and we learned to speak to adults with confidence and respect.

Today’s kids are busy with more sports, camps and activities than we ever had, but a new online app called Skratch is helping teens find employment in the “gig” economy. The app matches their skill set with needs in the community, and teens can accept jobs in their zip code that fit openings in their busy schedule. “Sponsors” offering “gigs” have undergone a criminal and sex offender background check for safety (teens over 17 also are checked), and parents are notified when kids accept a gig. Standardized pricing makes online payment easy.

Lauren Baronoskie, 14, will be a freshman at Lake Highlands High when school starts August 20th, and she says Skratch is the perfect solution for her and her busy friends.

“It’s great because, when I’m home not doing anything, I can see if there’s work available. I can work on my own terms. I choose what I do.”

Skratch was founded in 2016 by Scott Bennett and Ronen Akiva after Akiva lamented his son couldn’t fit a job into his packed academic calendar. They launched the app in four North Texas zip codes, and it quickly spread to the present 73.

Categories include tutoring, pets, sports, media and tech support, event planning, family support and “create your own.” Hourly pricing is $12-$15, and Skratch keeps a 25-percent fee.

“I do plan on having a job at some point during high school,” says Lauren. “This will prepare me for that, but it’s not always, and it’s not every day.”

Lauren, busy with cheerleading and tennis, prefers finding gigs she can do at home, like the logo she created for a basketball team and the PowerPoint presentation she produced for Merriman Park Elementary (MPE). OK, the sponsor on that one was Lindsay Baronoskie, Director of MPE’s Outdoor Learning Center and Lauren’s mom.

“This will make me look good,” says Lindsay. “She did a really great job.”

Lauren says she hopes to continue doing such work, building her portfolio and earning money for a MacBook, then gas for a future car. She’s hoping to try a few different tasks, like event planning and child care.

“I’d like to see what I’m good at and what I like more than the rest,” says Lauren. “I haven’t done too many yet, because when a gig is posted, it’s usually taken pretty quickly. Most [sponsors] don’t know about it yet, so I’m hoping more will hear about it and use it when they want to hire someone.”

Students first watch an online training video to understand expectations and reinforce safety aspects – no teen must complete a task for a sponsor who makes them feel uncomfortable. Afterward the sponsor rates the teen with 1-5 “lightning rods,” giving the student immediate feedback and helping other sponsors decide who they prefer to hire. Students must be at least 14.

“I think this will help in the future when I’m looking for a real job, because I’ll have experience working for someone. Even with these one-time things, I’m doing something for someone. It’s nice to know I’ve helped someone get things done they couldn’t do or needed help with.”

Katy Hancock, MPE mom and public relations rep for Skratch, says time and money management are two of the biggest takeaways for teens. And she says Skratch has created a “freebie code,” so your first gig is free. Just enter LAKEHIGHLANDS at checkout.

Parents and teens say the Skratch app is easy to use, pricing is standardized and there are plenty of gig categories to choose from.