Two months of work can change a young person’s life. For Christopher, his summer job with the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), through its Summer Employment Program, gave him the opportunity to gain experience, learn about affordable housing, build relationships with housing professionals, and awaken his interest in a public service career.
“HANO is where I started, and I knew I could gain some additional experience in the accounting field,” says Christopher. After earning his college degree and MBA, Christopher decided to apply for a job with HANO and now holds a full-time position as a Junior Accountant. “Working with the staff has been wonderful, and I am eager to see where this journey will take me.”
President Obama has said that “access to a job in the summer and beyond can make all the difference to a young person – especially those who don’t have access to many resources and opportunities.”
Recognizing the importance of youth employment and the value of early work, HUD is partnering with the White House to support students like Christopher through the Summer Opportunity Project, a federal interagency initiative to connect youth with employment and education in communities across the country. Providing access to job opportunities and skills training during the summer months will allow students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed.
For Jasmine, summer employment at her housing authority provided an opportunity to discover and cultivate her passion for technology. “I was motivated to join HANO as a Junior Programmer because I wanted to give back to the organization that provided affordable housing to my family,” says Jasmine, who has since graduated from college and is now working for HANO in a permanent position. “When you have a place to call your home, it enables you to have stability and peace of mind.”
Studies have shown that summer jobs lead to better academic performance and contribute to the social and economic well-being of individual students, their families and communities. In fact, a rigorous evaluation of New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program found that it saved lives by providing positive and meaningful opportunities for youth, who thereby avoided alternative, dangerous situations. The research by the US Department of the Treasury, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that the program reduced mortality rates by 20 percent and incarceration by 10 percent for youth participants.
Just imagine if each of the more than 3,000 Public Housing Agencies (“PHAs”) across the country commits to connecting five young people to summer jobs, that’s more than 15,000 youth opportunities! Together, we can help youth have better summers and ultimately improve their lives.
There are many funding opportunities for PHAs and pathways to creating youth employment (PDF). Whether working with local businesses to offer internships and job shadowing opportunities, hosting career fairs, or leading workplace skills workshops, your participation is an essential part of launching young people like Jasmine and Christopher toward their futures.
Throughout the summer, we will share Summer Opportunity Project success stories through President Obama’s My First Job social media campaign. We invite you to share your story by contacting PIH@hud.gov. Let us know how your first job shaped your path or how you are creating opportunities for youth in your communities.
Lourdes Castro Ramírez is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public and Indian Housing.