For Immediate Release - May 21, 2013

Report: At risk teens gain job skills, give back to their community through Summer Jobs Program

BOSTON – May 21, 2013 -   The YouthWorks summer jobs program helps provide low-income and at-risk youth from around the Commonwealth with work experience, valuable career skills and a chance to give back to their communities, a new report from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and Commonwealth Corporation finds.

In 2012, the Patrick-Murray Administration funded YouthWorks, a program that helps at-risk young people find meaningful employment, with $8 million. Through the program, over 5,300 young people in 31 cities across the Commonwealth were placed in summer and year-round jobs. Earlier this month, Governor Deval Patrick filed a supplemental budget request for $10 million to fund the YouthWorks program this summer, recognizing the important role career experience plays in future success for young adults.

“We must offer constructive alternatives for our young people,” said Governor Patrick. “Investing in YouthWorks and summer jobs programs is part of our comprehensive strategy to create peace in our neighborhoods by giving all of our young people the opportunity for success.”

Additionally, summer jobs, including many of those supported by Youthworks, empower young people to help others in their communities. In Springfield, Youthworks participants worked side-by-side with professional carpenters and electricians to rebuild affordable houses in the city's Old Hill neighborhood. In Lowell, YouthWorks participants learned skills like teamwork, follow-through and project management at the Lowell Community Health Center where they took leadership roles in planning Dance4Peace, an event aimed at ending youth violence and ethnic stereotyping.

"YouthWorks represents a worthwhile investment that gives young people the opportunity to earn a wage, learn career skills, take pride in a job well done and become a positive force in their communities,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein. “As the summer months approach, we hope to have the funds necessary to run a program this summer.”

"What many should realize is that programs like YouthWorks really give youth the chance to make changes we never thought we were capable of," said Bryan Wright, a Boston teen who worked as a Head Start teacher’s assistant last summer.

Fall River teen Rahbi Iddrisu spent her summer at the Fall River Career Center helping adults find jobs.

"I'm getting to learn about more secure job fields," said Iddrisu. "I want to be able to help people - maybe go to law school."

YouthWorks partners with local workforce boards, employers, and youths to ensure that young people get work experience and learn work readiness skills that lead to unsubsidized employment.

Kevin Hancock, a Haverhill entrepreneur who hired a YouthWorks participant says he "can see the excitement in kids' eyes."

"I want to help them understand that you have to prove yourself to an employer in order to expect paycheck." Hancock said.

The full report is available here: