For youth development professionals and communities, summer — and really any time where youth are disconnected — represents either opportunity or danger. We must rally to ensure the right gaps are addressed and opportunities are in place. We must collaborate to collectively address the needs that no single organization could.
Take, for example, STL Youth Jobs in St. Louis. This collaboration emerged in 2012 from the inspiration of funders, nonprofits, business and civic leaders, who launched STL Youth Jobs as a creative, cross-sector solution ensuring that youth have access to employment, are equipped to handle finances and build skills critical to future employment.
More than 200 teens were employed that summer. They reported increased work motivation and ability to manage and save their earnings. More than 90 percent increased their work skills and gained confidence, and 60 percent are still working.
The Citi Foundation has selected St. Louis as one of the cities in which it will help fund summer jobs for low-income youths.
The foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of Citigroup, and the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund said Tuesday that St. Louis and Washington, D.C., are both included in the Summer Jobs Connect program this year.
The foundation’s contribution to Summer Jobs Connect totals $4.6 million in 2015, and $259,400 will go toward the creation of 100 jobs for youths in St. Louis, Citi Foundation CEO Brandee McHale told the Post-Dispatch.
Additionally in St. Louis, Citi will pay for a program coordinator to teach financial literacy skills, including how to use a bank account and how to budget.
“The city of St. Louis had really expressed the desire to not just have a scalable jobs program but also to have the financial education piece,” McHale said.
Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay, said the funding will go toward the STL Youth Jobs effort and be used to help those in neighborhoods with high poverty, low educational attainment and high crime.
Around 100 youth started new jobs this week as part of the Emerson funded, “Ferguson Forward Program.” Announced in September, “Ferguson Forward” will support early childhood education, business development, scholarships for students and youth job training.
MERS Goodwill industries will use $750,000 provided by Emerson to train 16–to-23 year olds living in the Ferguson and Dellwood area. More than 30 local business and corporations will employ those enrolled in the program. The places hiring include Complete Auto Body, the City of Dellwood, Emerson, St. Louis Community Credit Union, and the Ferguson Library.
Patrick McCulloch, coordinator of STL Youth jobs with MERS Goodwill says the initiative is similar to the STL Youth jobs program he coordinates in the summer. This initiative lasts for six months instead of three and will focuses on 100 youth from Ferguson and the surrounding area, instead of the entire region.