Most of us remember our first job. For many, it was the first time we learned about the importance of hard work, responsibility and accountability. The first paychecks were memorable as well; they provided funds to go to the movies, hang out with friends, or save towards a skateboard or back to school clothes.
For many of today’s disadvantaged and at-risk youths, summer employment represents something very different. It represents not just the value of a hard-earned dollar, but also exposure to long-term job opportunities, or to a mentor that can be a positive influence in their lives.
This is why in 2012 the Obama Administration announced the Summer Jobs+ program. Out of that successful initiative, the Youth Jobs+ program was created. Youth Jobs+ operates by bringing together Cabinet members, elected officials, local businesses, and non-profit organizations to create potential employment opportunities for young Americans.
On Thursday May 30th Secretary Shaun Donovan and Mayor Greg Stanton met with local civic and business leaders, as well as two young people, to discuss the Youth Summer Jobs program in Phoenix, Arizona. During the meeting, they discussed summer youth opportunities in Phoenix, the benefits to employing at-risk youth, the short and long term effects of limited employment opportunities, as well as how best to encourage the business community to provide those opportunities.
One attendee, Sammie Robinson, shared his firsthand experience about how obtaining a summer job at the YMCA helped him not only steer away from trouble, but also inspired him to want to help others. Today Sammie is a college student majoring in political science and works as a youth Counselor at the Phoenix YMCA.
The event was a success, and both Secretary Donovan and Mayor Stanton were pleased with connections that established at the meeting to ensure that this summer, young people in Phoenix and across the country have job opportunities.