The Winnipeg Jets are teaming up with the province to support at-risk high school students, offering a new mentorship and apprenticeship program.

"We know that kids need positive after school activities to stay busy, safe and out of trouble," Premier Greg Selinger said at the MTS Centre on Friday, annoucing the partnership with True North Sports and Entertainment chair Mark Chipman.

"I am proud to work with Mark Chipman and the Winnipeg Jets to help students develop skills, find mentors and prepare for life outside the classroom. We will work together to give kids a better shot."

A new program will be based on one in Chicago called After School Matters. Businesses, community organizations and skilled professionals will provide intensive instruction to students in five areas: sports, science, technology, performing arts and communications.

The program will be launched in Winnipeg's core area in 2012 and will be expanded to high needs areas throughout the province, Selinger said.

The Jets and True North Sports and Entertainment will be the program's first community partner, he said.

Their organization will give kids hands-on experience with sports and facility management and marketing.

In Chicago, the program has been supported by organizations like the Chicago Bulls, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Opera Theatre and businesses like Motorola.

Selinger brushed aside questions from reporters about the timing of the announcement during an election campaign. He and Chipman said the whole concept has been in the works for months.

However, as part of his campaign promises on crime, Selinger announced on Sept. 9 that he wanted to implement a program modeled on Chicago's After School Matters.