This year — thanks to a program supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation — more than 8,000 young people in Baltimore had a chance to fill their idle summer months with employment experience and a paycheck.
The city-led effort, called YouthWorks, connects local youth, ages 14 to 21, with jobs in a wide range of industries — everything from finance and construction to hospitality and health care.
Nearly 1,000 worksites hosted participants this summer. And, under the terms of the program, youth commit to working 25 hours or more each week for five weeks and earn at least minimum wage, which is $9.25 an hour.
Such experience is critical, according to Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation, which contributed $750,000 to YouthWorks this year. “A summer job can be an incredibly valuable experience that lasts a lifetime,” McCarthy has said.
“We are proud to support this effort that is giving a record number of youth an opportunity to get a taste of the workforce, earn a paycheck and possibly learn a thing or two about personal finances — all of which are important to have on the path to adulthood.”
Kendrick, who worked at a local restaurant this summer, would agree. “I’ve learned how not to give up and how to push through things,“ he says of his YouthWorks assignment. As part of the program, Kendrick also met a case manager and completed weekly training sessions to build his skills in areas like communication and customer service.
The program has received funding from a wide range of city, state, nonprofit and private-sector partners. This year’s list of supporters includes more than 15 local organizations — such as Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, and Motorola — that have committed to donating at least $15,000 or directly hiring at least 10 participants.