Summer jobs and part-time work are considered a rite of passage. They offer a chance to gain experience, references and personal income. Recent research also suggests that youth employment impacts later career opportunities.
But now Philadelphia’s collaborative effort to put more young people to work faces a 40 percent drop in service due to a lack of funding.
WorkReady Philadelphia, a partnership between the Philadelphia Youth Network, Philadelphia Works and the Philadelphia Council for College and Career Success, helped 7,600 young people ages 14 to 21 get summer jobs in 2013 by connecting them with employers. This year, unless more funding is secured, that number could drop to 4,500.
But given the program’s mix of private and public funding sources, there is no easy answer for the current shortfall.
“The funding picture for this program has historically been complex so there is not one easily identified source of funding that decreased,” said Kate Rivera, project director at the Urban Affairs Coalition, a nonprofit partner in the program.
“Over the past few years we have seen significant one-time infusions of funding from federal government sources such as the stimulus act, as well as some Department of Labor funds,” she added. “However, with the current level of funding we are anticipating the lowest number of jobs available since the WorkReady program began in 2003.”
There have already been 8,000 applications for 2014, according to the Philadelphia Youth Network.
From our Partners
Graph via Philadelphia Youth Network
The city is now reaching out to the private sector to help close the gap. Businesses and individual donors can add a position for $1,700. In 2013, 2,000 jobs were created for the program by the private sector, according to the Philadelphia Youth Network. The hope is to significantly increase that number.
The partnership will continue to seek funding from a mix of sources, including public money.
Recently, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services provided $2 million to the Philadelphia Youth Network for summer and year-round opportunities. Some of this will go towards the summer jobs program.
“No one group or sector can do this work alone — we all need to do our part to make this investment in our communities,” Rivera said.
(Images via infographic from WorkReady Philadelphia)-30-
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