Budget deal baselines and expands program service levels, calls for Task Force to examine how to improve the program model
The Community Service Society of New York (CSS) applauds the agreement reached in the New York City budget to significantly expand and improve the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The new budget baselines an additional $38 million for the program, to expand its service level to 60,000 jobs for youth this summer. This commitment will give more valuable work experiences to youth this summer than ever, and establishes a stronger foundation for continued growth of the program in the years to come.
A report released by CSS in February called for the city to completely reimagine SYEP as a universal program, available to every high school student interested in extending their school year with a summer job. Such a reimagined program would better connect SYEP to students’ year-round educational experiences in school, and improve their chances of long-term career success.
In 2015, over 100,000 youth applied for SYEP, but the City funded only 55,000 program slots. This summer, 60,000 will get jobs. CSS President David Jones: “It’s good to see the City recognizing the importance of publicly funded summer youth employment by expanding SYEP. But there is more work to be done to offer jobs to even more youth, so we can take advantage of their desire to gain skills and income to support and improve themselves, their families, and their communities. But we thank Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Mark-Vivierito, and leading Council members such as Jumaane WIlliams, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and Mathieu Eugene, who have made youth employment a priority.”
The CSS proposal cited data showing that youth employment remains at abysmally low levels, having never recovered from the Great Recession. The report also cites data showing the positive impact that summer jobs has on a range of academic and behavioral outcomes for youth. However, SYEP evaluations have yet to show any positive impacts on employment, speaking to the need to enhance the program model.
The CSS report also provided polling data showing that 88 percent of New Yorkers believe it is important for the city to invest public tax revenues to create a universal summer jobs program.
In addition to expanding service to universal levels, the CSS report calls for the program to adopt a new, enhanced program model, where summer jobs would be an extension of each year of school for every high school student in the city. The new model would ensure that summer jobs better build off students’ interests and academic work. Out of school or “disconnected” youth would receive their own, targeted jobs in a separate service option of the program.
Lazar Treschan, CSS Director of Youth Policy and author of the report: “We thank the Mayor and Council for the leadership on youth employment, and are eager to work with them further to further expand and enhance the program moving forward.”