City kicks off summer employment program
by Brendan McGrath
Jul 11, 2012 | 1160 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Queens Botanical Garden on Thursday, July 5, to kick off this year’s installment of the Summer Youth Experience initiative. About 31,700 young New Yorkers will take part in a variety of employment and education programs over the next seven weeks.

The employment portion of this program will put youth to work at different non-profits and businesses throughout the city. The botanical garden, for instance, will be the home of 35 summer jobs for these young workers.

One member of the program that will be working there for the next seven weeks is Yajeim Spencer from Jamaica. He found out about the program through another employment program and is looking forward to his job there before he starts school at LaGuardia Community College in the fall.

“Sometimes summer jobs can really start you on a career path, that was true for me,” Bloomberg said, describing his own experience which helped push him to attend Johns Hopkins University. “You’ve gotta get out there and actually do something and see how people interact.”

The mayor spoke of the increasing problem of having more demand for summer work than there are jobs. This program, however, will remedy some of that, with its lottery process to select youth to put to work. The overall program is funded by a mix of federal, state, city and private dollars.

Teens suffer from a higher rate of unemployment than any other age group, according to a press release from the mayor’s office, making the additional jobs crucial for young New Yorkers.

The mayor stated Thursday that gaining work experience at a young age has been shown to increase the graduation rates of students in the short term, while making it more likely that they will obtain employment and receive higher pay in the long run.

The Summer Youth Employment program in particular has been shown to increase school attendance among its participants once they complete the program, while also increasing their likelihood of passing the Regents exams.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott took part in the program himself in the 1960’s and spoke of the foundation and different skill sets he acquired through his two jobs in the program. According to Walcott, working for a newspaper and a bank helped him become a productive adult and find out what he was good at, as well as what he wasn’t.

“It’s hard to describe what you learn but there’s no question you do learn an awful lot,” Bloomberg said, describing the importance of summer employment.

After speaking, Bloomberg traveled outside and got a little dirty as he put a plant in the ground surrounded by Queens Botanical Gardens executives, local politicians and kids from the program.

The initiative goes beyond creating jobs for youth and, beginning this year, will provide opportunities to combat summer learning loss through a program called NYC Summer Quest. This is a three-year pilot program in the Bronx that will attempt to stem the negative educational impacts of the summer break, which according to Walcott disproportionately impact low-income students.

The program will reach elementary and middle school students and address different types of core learning, beginning with 11 schools and organizations this year. If the program is as successful as they hope, the plan is to expand it to the entire city.

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