Council Members Debi Rose, Jumaane D. Williams, and Mark Treyger join students and advocates to call for the expansion of the Summer Youth Employment Program.
A coalition of dozens of students joined elected officials and advocacy groups on the steps of City Hall earlier today to support the Summer Youth Employment Program and to call for increased investment to allow for the expansion of the program.
The students were joined by New York City Council Members Debi Rose, Jumaane D. Williams, and Mark Treyger.
The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) currently provides six weeks of summer employment to 70,000 youth aged 14-24 across the five boroughs. SYEP also provides workshops on job readiness, career exploration, financial literacy, and opportunities to continue education and social growth. However, the program does not currently have the levels of investment needed to provide universal placement for students badly in need of a summer job. The elected officials, advocates, and students called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand funding for the program in the FY19 Budget currently being negotiated.
The community benefits of the SYEP were echoed by many of the groups present to support the program, including East Flatbush Village, Inc., Elite Learners, Inc., The Christopher Rose Community Empowerment Campaign, Teens Take Charge, Flatbush Development Corporation, and Sesame Flyers. Also speaking were the Community Service Society of New York and the Campaign for Summer Jobs, both of which have spent many years in advocacy of the SYEP, in content of the program as well as capacity.
“For decades, the city’s summer youth employment program has connected young people with their communities, taught them financial literacy and prepared them for successful careers,” council member Rose, Chair of the Youth Services Committee, said. “This is an investment in individuals and in the future well-being of our city, and our budget should reflect these values. It defies logic that tens of thousands of students who apply for this program are turned away, and I call on the mayor to continue to close this gap by increasing the number of positions available to our young people.”
Council member Williams added: “The summer youth employment program is one of the most vital programs for young people in our city. A summer job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about learning vital skills and providing our youth with a positive path.”
There are tens of thousands of student being turned away from the program because of shortfalls in the funding allocated, Williams said. “We can do better, and we must demand better on behalf of students across the five boroughs who can benefit immensely from a summer job,” he said.
“When young people get their first job, it gives them irreplaceable opportunities to learn responsibility and teamwork and earn a paycheck,” added Gregory Brender of United Neighborhood Houses.
Council Member Keith Powers, Vice-Chair of Budgeting for the Progressive Caucus, said: “Summer jobs help young people develop a strong worth ethic.”
The Summer Youth Employment Program, originally created in 1963, is run by the Department of Youth and Community Development, and has seen steady increases in recent years from 60,000 in 2016 and 54,000 in 2015. The program has been on a recovery since being cut from over 50,00o slots to under 40,00. Proponents of the program believe that if 100,000 slots were made available, all students who apply could be placed in a position.
David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society, said, “Expanding the number of summer jobs for our youth are among the most important racial equity interventions we can make,” said
Added Council Member Mark Treyger, Chairman of the Education Committee: “All teenagers and young adults who want to work should have the right to work. Employing our young people is one of the best ways we can help them succeed.”