Inside the launch of Summer Jobs+, to provide disconnected youth with pathways to employment starting in the summer of 2012.
The questions came in via Facebook and Twitter: What do you mean you are going to the White House launch of Summer Jobs Plus? What is Summer Jobs Plus? Will the President be there? What exactly is a White House Launch? After all, it's not every day you get to go to a White House initiative launch, even if you work inside the beltway.
On January 5, the Obama administration launched Summer Jobs+, a call to action for businesses, nonprofits and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012.
The goal is ambitious and the timeframe short: the initiative aims to create 250,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth by the start of this summer—at least 100,000 of which will be paid jobs and internships. So far, the initiative has created over 180,000 job commitments, 70,000 of which are paid. In the next few weeks, the Department of Labor will release of a very cool online Summer Jobs+ Job Bank.
A little background on how this came to be: last year, the President proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16 to 24 in the proposed American Jobs Act. Congress failed to pass the legislation, so the Federal government and private sector decided to act. So far, 32 organizations and four federal agencies have come together to make this initiative happen.
Wonder what it would be like to join a White House launch event? I’ll walk you through your day hour by hour (in Washington-speak, the “Tic- Tock.”)
Use the play button below to move across the time slots. You can also drag your cursor on the screen to move and zoom. View in full screen.
Highlights from the Launch
Business leaders, young people, the CEO of United Way Worldwide, several Cabinet Members and President Obama himself all spoke at the event. Among the many highlights:
6.7 million young people are disconnected from school and work.
If we do nothing to support these 6.7 million "opportunity youth," the aggregate social burden will top $4.75 trillion – far higher than the cost it would take to reconnect them to education and work, as John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises, noted.
More than 367,000 young people found summer work opportunities in 2009 and 2010 because of the Recovery Act.
Summer Jobs+ will create 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships.
Janet Murguía, President of the National Council of La Raza, pointed out that the disparities among Latinos (half a million of whom turn 18 every year) and African Americans are particularly severe.
With the audience leaning forward to hear every word, the young people spoke of their time in gangs, dealing drugs, hustling and stealing to survive. It is a story all too common in our country. What they described next is a story all too rare in our country: an organization opened its arms and helped them find a new way to get by. A different set of skills from those they learned on the streets; a different path that leads to a productive adulthood, instead of to jail or the morgue.
Alma Powell of America’s Promise noted that when business leaders tell her that “we have jobs but can’t find qualified people to take them,” she tells them that they should “grow [those leaders]."
Hilda Solis, the Secretary of Labor, recounted her summer job as a recreation aide. The values she learned there – to believe in herself and that hard work does pay off – helped propel her to become one of the first Latinas to serve in the President’s Cabinet.
President Obama: "For young people to be able to sit in an atmosphere which people are providing services or making goods, adding value, and to say to themselves ‘you know, I could do that too.’ And then for them to then have the opportunity to see somebody who is already in a position they might aspire who says, and ‘well here’s how I got here, and here’s what was required. Here are the steps you need to take.’ That’s invaluable."
Thaddeus Ferber is Vice President for Policy with the Forum for Youth Investment and co-founder of SparkAction.
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