Press Release

CSS Report Offers Guidance for Creating Universal Summer Jobs Program

Poll: 87 percent of New Yorkers support investing in Universal Summer Jobs model

A new report released today by the Community Service Society of New York (CSS) outlines how the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) can be made universally available to high school students to better connect the program to students’ year-round educational experiences in school, skills and interests while improving their chances of long-term career success.

The report, How to Make Universal Summer Jobs a Reality in New York City, follows a previous CSS proposal calling on New York City to offer every high school student a paid summer job as an optional extension of their academic year. Using case studies and analysis of five promising programs documented in the new report, CSS makes specific recommendations to the City, and a special Youth Employment Task Force, on how to create a new model for SYEP that addresses student demand, funding inadequacy and program quality.

“By retooling SYEP as a universally-available internship program for every high school student who wants the experience, we have the opportunity to fundamentally transform the education of every young person in the city,” said David R. Jones, CSS President and CEO. “New York should be the first city in the nation to make a summer job an option to every New York City youth who seeks one.”  

This year, 140,000 public high school students applied for summer jobs through SYEP.  Of that number, 60,000 were selected for jobs via a lottery. With few exceptions, employers under the program agree to create jobs in advance of meeting or assessing the interests of participants. Making the program universal, and offering school-based contracts – one of the report’s recommendations – would allow employers and program providers more time and resources to plan and administer higher quality programs.

In anticipation that a universal program may not be implemented immediately, the report recommends using the existing lottery to fill half of the program slots, and targeting the other half to demonstrations of universal service to specific age groups, high-needs neighborhoods and specific groups of schools.

The CSS report also provides polling data showing that 87 percent of New Yorkers believe it is important for the city to invest public tax revenues to create a universal summer jobs program. A strong majority of New Yorkers -- 70 percent – said they were more inclined to vote for a mayoral candidate who promised universal summer jobs for public high students.  

Lazar Treschan, CSS Director of Youth Policy and author of the report, said:  “New York City youth are eager to work over the summer, but most are turned away from SYEP due to limited funding.  It’s time to make the program universal, better connect it to high school students’ year-round experiences, and make it a real engine for the city’s economic and workforce development.”

The city recently created a new citywide Youth Employment Task Force, co-chaired by Deputy Mayor Rich Buery and City Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, charged with evaluating SYEP and considering ways to enhance it.  CSS will be presenting findings and recommendations from its report to the task force, which is meeting on Tuesday, November 1.

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