AG Coakley Announces Additional Funding for Summer Youth Jobs
The additional funding supplements the $1.5 million in Project YES ( Youth Employment Solutions) grants that AG Coakley's Office awarded to 16 programs across the state that directly benefit at-risk youth by providing jobs that promote themes such as health, wellness and physical activity. As a result of the additional funding, 64 new youth jobs will be created, bringing the total number of jobs created as a result of the grants to over 225. The funding stems from a series of settlements obtained by the Attorney General's Office against pharmaceutical and health care companies.
Coakley made her announcement during a visit to the St. Peter's Teen Center in Dorchester, one of the 16 programs that receive grant funds. She was joined by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, and staff and students from the center.
"As we have unfortunately seen funding for youth jobs dwindle during this difficult economy, it is more important than ever that we find additional ways to support these programs and invest in our children," Attorney General Coakley said. "These youth jobs offer teens an opportunity to work as part of a team, to give back to their community, and to help support themselves and their families. As we head into the summer months, these jobs also help get kids off the streets and offer positive alternatives to violence."
"I want to thank the Attorney General for allocating these additional funds to put another 64 young people to work this summer across the State," said Mayor Menino. "Summer jobs are an essential investment in the future leaders of our city and it is critical that we work together to make sure young people have this important life experience, especially in this difficult economy."
The current budget crisis in both the public and private sectors has led to a severe decrease in the jobs available for youth. During the first part of 2009, teen employment rates fell to 30 percent, a new record low. In addition to the benefits enjoyed by the individual and the local economy, young people with jobs have a greater optimism about their future and are much less likely to commit crimes. At the same time, studies show that obesity levels among children continue to rise. One major contributor to rising obesity levels is a lack of physical activity. More youth than ever are spending their after-school time and weekends in front of the television or playing video games. Research by the University of Michigan's Fitness for Youth (FFY) program, for example, found the average American child spends about 20 percent of their time watching television, gets less than 15 minutes of intentional exercise each day, and only 43 minutes of "moderate" activity, on average. They also found that teenagers from low-income families are at greater risk for obesity.
The initial grants and the additional funding announced yesterday support programs that encourage physical activity, teach nutrition and healthy diet, and instill professional skills and work ethic in at-risk youth. To encourage physical activity, youths will participate in programs that will allow them to be coaches, referees, instructors and mentors in a wide range of sports, dance and fitness classes. The funded programs teach young people about nutrition and healthy diet through projects such as farming, culinary training, food preparation, fitness challenges and educational sessions. In order to develop professional skills and work ethic, workshops and seminars regarding career topics such as resume writing, leadership, public speaking, and interview skills will be offered.
The following organizations, each of which received funding under the initial grant offering in December 2009, will each receive an additional $6,250 in funding:
- West End Boys and Girls Club (Allston, MA)
- Catholic Charities Teen Center at St. Peter's (Dorchester, MA)
- Bird Street Community Center (Dorchester, MA)
- Hyde Square Task Force (Jamaica Plain, MA)
- Bikes Not Bombs (Jamaica Plain, MA)
- ROCA (Chelsea, MA)
- City of Everett
- LUK Inc. Worcester (Fitchburg, MA)
- Greater Fall River Re-creation Committee (Fall River, MA)
- City of New Bedford
- Boys and Girls Club Holyoke (Holyoke, MA)
- Worcester Public Schools (Worcester, MA)
- Haverhill Community Violence Prevention Center (Haverhill, MA)
- United Teen Equality Center (Lowell, MA)
- Methuen Arlington Neighborhood, Inc. (Methuen, MA)
- Caring Health Center (Springfield, MA)
In the coming weeks, Attorney General Coakley will visit four other grant recipient programs:
- Monday, May 10, 2010 - Caring Health Center, Springfield
- Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - Burncoat Middle School "FitMath" Program, Worcester
- Monday, May 17, 2010 - Normandin Elementary School "Walk Safe Home" Program, New Bedford
- Thursday, May 20, 2010 - United Teen Equality Center, Lowell
The funding for these youth jobs grants stems from a series of settlements obtained by the Attorney General's office against pharmaceutical and health care companies. Those settlements required the funds to be spent on programs that promote health.
Project YES is an initiative sponsored by the Attorney General's Office, in partnership with elected officials, business leaders, youth serving agencies, law enforcement and workforce investment boards across the Commonwealth. The goal of Project YES is to work collaboratively to increase both the number of jobs available to youth and also to increase the availability of supportive, mentoring and educational opportunities which will last long beyond the short term job experience. Project YES was launched in 2008 and in its inaugural year, worked with the cities of New Bedford, Worcester and Springfield to promote and support summer jobs for at-risk teens. In 2009, Project YES expanded by offering the grant funding for the creation of school-year and summer jobs which focused on wellness and physical activity.