Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today released the Youth Employment Task Force Report, which provides recommendations to enhance youth workforce programming and services to the City’s most vulnerable youth. The task force was convened in September 2016, after the City’s FY2017 $85 million in funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program and Work, Learn, Grow allowed a record breaking 60,000 young people to participate in SYEP during Summer 2016.
The report can be read here.
“When we invest in our City’s kids, we invest in our future. For more than 50 years, the Summer Youth Employment Program has offered the kind of real world training and support necessary to prepare our most vulnerable kids for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This report will help strengthen our programming, so we can continue to connect the next generation to job opportunities for years to come.”
“For decades SYEP has allowed thousands of young New Yorkers – predominantly from communities of color – to both access employment opportunities and continuously improve their workforce experiences,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark -Viverito. “This report provides great insight into how we can continue to take smart and creative steps to ensure our youth reach their fullest potential.”
Chaired by Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery and City Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, the task force was charged with developing recommendations to enhance the City’s youth workforce programs and services provided to the most vulnerable youth. The task force’s recommendations were organized in two categories: program focus and program quality, and operations and system-building. Recommendations include:
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· Investing in enhanced support services for the Vulnerable Youth track –Expanding services to include pre-program orientation and counseling to help meet the unique needs for vulnerable populations.
· Strengthening connections between SYEP providers and schools to improve in-school career development for young people –Creating more deliberate partnerships between our schools and SYEP would allow students to receive dedicated City support around career exploration during the academic year.
· Facilitating seamless entry between NYC youth employment initiatives –Bolstering interagency connections is particularly essential to improve SYEP for disconnected youth, who require stronger, more deliberate connections to WLG and other programming.
· Creating a specific Younger Youth track focused on career exploration –Younger program participants would benefit from a more tailored SYEP experience focused on career exploration and project-based learning.
· Revamping SYEP timeline to support better job development and matching process –By starting the entire process earlier, providers would have more time to plan, develop quality placements and otherwise raise the quality of experience for participants.
· Boosting system-building efforts through new training programs, data systems updates, leveraging of available resources and new connections –Enhancing the key areas of the SYEP and WLG programs, including provider capacity, interagency connections, employer engagement, and evaluation, will improve overall quality and operational efficiency.
These recommendations will be incorporated into a concept paper that the Department of Youth and Community Development will release this summer. This will give the provider community an opportunity to submit feedback on enhancements to the City’s programming. The recommendations and the concept paper will also help inform DYCD’s Request for Proposal which will be released in Fall 2017.
In addition to co-Chairs Deputy Mayor Buery and Council Finance Chair Ferreras-Copeland, members of the Youth Employment Task Force include:
Bill Chong, Commissioner, Department of Youth and Community Development
- Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships
- Mathieu Eugene, Council Member
- Steven Matteo, Council Member
- David Nocenti, Executive Director, Union Settlement
- Jennifer March, Executive Director, Citizen’s Committee for Children
- Lucy Friedman, President, ExpandED Schools
- Kathy Wylde, President, CEO, Partnership for NYC
- Sharon Sewell-Fairman, Executive Director, Workforce Professionals Institute
- Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses
- David Jones, President, Chief Executive Officer, Community Service Society
- Lou Miceli, Executive Director, JobsFirstNYC
- Emary Aronson, Managing Director, Education and Relief Fund, Robin Hood Foundation
- Amy Ellen Schwartz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Chair in Public Affairs and Professor of Economics, Public Administration, and International Affairs, Syracuse University, the Maxwell School
- David Barth, Director of Youth, Opportunity and Learning, Ford Foundation
- Cidra Sebastien, Associate Executive Director, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
- William Wingate, Respite Care Worker, Center for Human Development & Family Services
- Laurie Dien, Vice President of Programs, The Pinkerton Foundation
The three City Council Members on the Task Force worked with a team of their colleagues, Council Members Chin, Gibson, Rodriguez, Torres and Williams to support the work.
“We know that access to work experiences helps young people develop academic and social skills that are critical to success in school and in life. This is especially true for children living in challenging circumstances – children who might not have the networks and resources to find internship opportunities on their own, and for whom exposure to the world of work can be particularly impactful,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery. “The task force’s recommendations will help strengthen the quality of the program and ensure its reaching the youth who need it the most.”
“Summer Youth Employment and the year-round Work, Learn, Grow program are proven initiatives that enhance the employability of young people as adults, contribute to the financial stability of families, and improve the academic performance of participants. The Youth Employment Taskforce was commissioned to refine the programs’ operations and objectives for even better results,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “I am proud of the work of the task force’s members and look forward to implementing their recommendations. Providing such meaningful opportunities for New York City’s young people is a priority for this Council, and we are committed to continue improving where we can and advocating for their long-term funding.”
“Under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and City Council, the City’s share of funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program was baselined for the first time in the program’s 54-year history—a commitment that provided a unique opportunity for the creation of the Youth Employment Task Force. The recommendations will form the foundation for this summer’s Concept Paper seeking feedback from our funded providers, as well as a Request for Proposals for program enhancements in early fall. It has been a privilege to work alongside my Task Force colleagues, and I look forward to our continuing efforts to make the City’s youth workforce programs even stronger,” saidDepartment of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong.
“The establishment of the Youth Employment Task Force is a continuation of the Mayor’s long-standing efforts to bring together the private and public sectors to address the critical issue of youth employment. Together we are creating a system, and establishing a shared mission, to address the dual issues of providing young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build careers; and helping our employers build their future workforce. This work is vital to our city,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships.
Council Member Mathieu Eugene said, “I want to commend the task force for their recommendations on how to improve employment resources for our youth. As Chairman of the Youth Services Committee, I am committed to finding new avenues to give our students every advantage possible when entering the work force. We have the resources available to help these young men and women become leaders within the community, and now we must fine tune our approach to putting them on a path to success.”
Minority Leader Steven Matteo said, “Given the ambitious goals and short time frame we had to meet them, this final report of the Youth Employment Task Force does a great job of framing the various objectives and contending priorities for the youth employment programs, and balancing its recommendations to meet these challenges. Most importantly, we all agreed that these programs must be transformed so as to provide young people with an introduction to potential careers and mentors and real professional and interpersonal skills, rather than just a few extra dollars during the summer. I am particularly proud of the new focus they will have on leveraging our local businesses, including Business Improvement Districts, to help young people find valuable work experience within their own communities.”
“As a proud former participant in SYEP, I know the power of this program to transform a young person’s life and put them on the right track for a rewarding career,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “This report is an excellent tool to make SYEP even better as we work together to expand access to the valuable experience and real world training this program provides.”
“For decades, the Summer Youth Employment Program has been New York’s main job preparedness program for our young people. However, as the Youth Empowerment Task Force’s report demonstrates, there are many pathways to providing our stars and scholars with a firsthand look at jobs and careers. SYEP will always be the cornerstone of our youth services but, by bringing career development into our schools and enhancing support to vulnerable youth, we will be taking significant steps to set all of our students up for success,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “I commend Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Youth Empowerment Task Force Co-Chairs Deputy Mayor Richard Burey and Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and all of the Task Force Members, Council Members, and staff who contributed to this report for their leadership and dedication to the success of our young people.”
“Investing in job opportunities for our youth can pay major dividends down the line as they are more prepared to enter the workforce,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “This task force and their report show clearly the value of these investments and why it’s so important to keep funding the SYEP initiative. I am proud to lend my support to these efforts and applaud our Mayor and Speaker for all their excellent work in making this a priority for our city.”
“The expansion of SYEP and WLG has greatly benefitted thousands of young people throughout the city in the form of leadership development, workforce training, career advancement and other arenas and invaluable programs. These recommendations provide a foundation for how to further strengthen these programs and ensure that participants get the best experience and training. We must continue to not only expand SYEP and WLG, but also assess their outcomes and strengths,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.
Council Member Jumaane Williams said, “All of the research shows that employing young people means stronger families, crime reductions, and literally, young people remaining alive. I commend the Administration for taking the Council’s priorities seriously when it comes to the Summer Youth Employment Program and partnering in this joint taskforce. I look forward to using the information gathered to assist our goal of expanding available slots and availability.”
Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizen’s Committee for Children, said: “We appreciate the City’s commitment to engaging stakeholders such as Citizens’ Committee for Children in their plans to strengthen and expand the Summer Youth Employment Program. Efforts to make the summer work experience even more impactful as a means to prepare youth for the workforce, and to expand the program to serve more homeless youth, foster youth, and court-involved youth, will make SYEP an even more valuable program for thousands of youth.”
Lucy Friedman, President of ExpandED Schools said, “We commend the City for inviting a diverse group of experts in practice and research to work with City leaders to take stock of our work-based learning for young people. We can each look back at our own lives to know how valuable early career opportunities are for young people-and they are absolutely critical to building the future of New York.”
Sharon Sewell-Fairman, Executive Director of Workforce Professionals Institute, said: “We are pleased to see that the Task Force stressed the importance of maximizing the effectiveness of programs to provide appropriate and impactful services to young adults.”
Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses, said, “United Neighborhood Houses has advocated to fund the Summer Youth Employment Program for nearly two decades, and we applaud the City’s continued investment in and innovative job skill development for this program. We hope that this task force process will lead toward an SYEP system where providers have the resources and support they need to develop high quality employment experiences for New York’s youth.”
David Jones, President, Chief Executive Officer of Community Service Society, said,“ CSS is pleased to have participated in the Youth Employment Task Force, whose final report recommendations on modernizing SYEP reflect many of our own: deeper connections to schools, more intentional sequencing of programming, and clearer articulation of how summer jobs provide real job skills to build on. If enacted rigorously, these reforms will significantly enhance the experience of SYEP participants, and turn the program into a growth engine for our city’s economy.”
Amy Ellen Schwartz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Chair in Public Affairs and Professor of Economics, Public Administration, and International Affairs, Syracuse University, the Maxwell School, said: “Hard evidence shows that SYEP yields real benefits for NYC youth. For high school students, SYEP improves academic outcomes particularly among those who are able to work more than one summer. Expanding those opportunities, then, promises to deliver significant benefits for the NYC youth who work and also for the organizations and clients they work with. SYEP can be a “win-win” for NYC.”
“This task force was a valuable step in bringing together key partners committed to providing better programs and results for young New Yorkers. We know that early and continued exposure to work has a significant positive impact on employment and an individual’s earning, and we enthusiastically endorse the recommendations of this task force to better utilize SYEP as a powerful work readiness tool for tens of thousands of New Yorkers each year,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New a York City.
“Since Mayor de Blasio launched the Center for Youth Employment two years ago, our focus has been on connecting our City’s programs to help young New Yorkers prepare for jobs and careers into a true system. We believe the work of the Task Force, and this final report, represents a major step forward in that effort,” said David Fischer, Executive Director of the NYC Center for Youth Employment.
Started in 1963, SYEP provides New York City young people between the ages of 14 and 24 with up to six weeks of entry-level experience at worksites in all five boroughs. SYEP offers workshops on job readiness, career exploration and financial literacy, and opportunities to continue education and social growth. Specialized programming for disabled, foster care, runaway/homeless and court-involved young people is also available. Participants are selected by lottery for the program. Ladders for Leaders, a component of SYEP, is a professional employer-paid internship program for high school and college students.
SYEP is part of a larger citywide strategy to expand employment services for young New Yorkers. In May 2015, Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City launched the NYC Center for Youth Employment, a public-private initiative with the specific goal of supporting 100,000 unique work-related experiences each year, including high-quality summer jobs, career exposure, skills-building, and supportive mentorships, by 2020.
DYCD also funds employment programs through In-School Youth (ISY); Out-of-School Youth (OSY); Opportunity Youth: Supported Work Experience; and the Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP). More information can be found on the DYCD website.
Work, Learn & Grow, a Council-funded initiative, provides participants in SYEP and ISY who are between the ages of 14 and 24 and currently in school with career-readiness training and paid employment opportunities for up to 25 weeks from October through April.