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Contact: Ilana Maier (Council Member Williams)
New Report Released Details the Need for an Enhanced, Universal Summer Jobs Program to serve 100,000 Youth
New York, NY: Today, New York City Council Member and Deputy Leader Jumaane D. Williams joined the Community Service Society of New York (CSS) and an interdisciplinary group of advocates from law enforcement, youth services, legal services and violence interrupters, to call for significantly increased youth employment, including universal summer youth jobs and doubled year-round youth jobs.
Additionally, CSS released a new report today which makes the case for universal summer jobs, and outlines how to enhance the existing Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), to better connect it to students’ year-round educational experiences in school, and improve their chances of long-term career success.
“Summer jobs save lives and have the potential to transform our communities,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “Youth employment is proven effective. We know students who participate have stronger test scores, are more involved in school, are less likely to be incarcerated and more likely to stay alive. We’re asking the administration to support our communities, reduce crime and improve education by fully funding universal summer youth jobs and doubling year-round youth jobs.
Council Member Williams continued, “we simply can’t afford not to invest in our youth.”
The CSS proposal cites 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 have on a range of academic, behavioral, and employment-related outcomes for youth. Summer jobs have been shown to reduce “summer melt” (the decreases in academic skills that happen during idle months); reduce risky behavior; improve chances of longer-term career success; and infuse our public, nonprofit, and private sector employers with youthful energy and effort.
Despite the program’s success, in 2015, over 100,000 youth applied for SYEP, but the City funded only 55,000 program slots.
David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York added, “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. And we should implement a program whereby summer jobs become an extension of what students are already learning in high school, so that they can develop their interests in a practical setting each year of their schooling.”
The CSS report also provides 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.
Lazar Treschan, CSS Director of Youth Policy and author of the report stated, “it’s time to broaden our understanding of the type of education that is necessary for young people to succeed in today’s economy. In addition to classroom work, we need to support career development experiences that will build young people’s job skills, give them connections, as well as a concrete understanding about what types of college will get them ready for the careers they seek to pursue.”
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.
We applaud City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito call for enhancements to SYEP in her 2016 State of the City address. Together, Council Member Williams and CSS are calling on the city to go a step farther and:
1. Fund 100,000 summer jobs by April 1. In order to meet the full demand for summer jobs, the City would need to fund 100,000 slots. In order to give program providers the time and ability to develop those programs, funding for that level of service would be required by April 1. 100,000 jobs would require approximately $131 million in city funding, an increase of $95 million from 2015.
2. Enhancement of the current model of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to a new model that better connects summer jobs to school experiences, and increases the quality of programming for youth participants and CBO program providers. A part of new 2016 funding would be allotted to pilot the new model of summer jobs in a limited number (10) of high schools. Every student, in every grade level, in the pilot schools would receive the offer of a guaranteed summer job. This would allow the City to examine implementation across all grades/service levels.