County Council Approves Youth Summer Jobs Program - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

County Council Approves Youth Summer Jobs Program

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Erie County Council unanimously approved a youth summer jobs program at their Monday night meeting. The program allocates $100,000 dollars that will create 100 jobs for youth.

Fifty jobs will go to city residents, the other 50 goes to the rest of Erie county. Sixteen to 21 year olds who are within 235 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible to apply. If more than 100 apply during the application period, then participants will be selected at random.

Program supporters hope it will help cut down on violence and crime while kids are out of school, but some feel that the council could have done more.

"I know more funds could have gone towards this cause. To compete with each other for 50 jobs in our city and 50 jobs in our county, it seems to be a little less than what I expected from the leadership of our community," said Gary Horton, Exec. Director of the Quality of Life Learning Center. Horton addressed the council before the meeting, saying that Erie needs a program that would employ 500-700 young people.

The summer jobs and anti-violence rally held in Erie's downtown last month also called for a job program that would employ about 700, and asked the council to allocate $1 million towards the program.

County Council says their $100,000 approved pilot plan is a start, and they may expand the program in the future.

"If we quickly find success in this program and we find there's a need, I'm willing to go back and take a look at the funding level," said Dr. Kyle Foust, chairman of Erie County Council. "But I think this is a good level to start at and we'll see how the next few months play out," he said.

"We have yet to know if what we do is going to influence much of what's been occurring in our community that we're all very concerned about, but we are very hopeful that it will," said councilman Phil Fatica, referring to the spike in violence in the city this year.

Teens at the meeting believe the program will help.

 "It means a lot to kids out there, struggling, who have nothing to do. Instead of like going outside, getting into drugs, selling stuff. It'll be way better for them and is a chance to turn lives around," said Francisco Nzodakurana of Erie, who plans to apply for the program.

The "Venango Training and Development Center" will be working young people selected to help train and place them with employers. The start date for those in the program will be July 1st.

Erie Community Foundation will contribute $50,000 to the youth jobs program and develop a web portal that will highlight existing job opportunities in the Erie area for youth, as well as recreational activities.

County Council has also asked the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority to match their $100,000 contribution. ECGRA will vote on approving the funds on Thursday. If approved, it could add more jobs to the program.

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