Citizens Urge City to Contribute Funds to Youth Job Program - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Citizens Urge City to Contribute Funds to Youth Job Program

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The goal for a summer jobs program brought supporters to the Erie City Council meeting on Wednesday night.  They're looking for the city to fund more youth jobs, but council says the city is already playing its part.

The uptick in violence in Erie is noticeable, and it has kids scared.

"It makes me feel like I don't want to go outside," said Shyya Jones of Erie.
"When I'm walking home from the after school program, and they fire a gunshot, of course I'm going to run. I can get shot out of nowhere, it kind of makes me feel anxious, scared, nervous," said Devonna Williams, another Erie resident.

Parents think a summer jobs program would help bring down youth crime.

"With all this stuff going on around here, this is very, very necessary," said Kim Ravnell, a parent of a 17-year-old. "With there being none, yeah, violence tends to happen," she said.

"Though county council approved $100,000 for a new summer jobs program that will help create 100 jobs for youths in our area, 50 for the city, 50 for the rest of Erie County, citizens at the meeting say the program's current scale is too small.

"We need more, we need a lot more," Ravnell said.

"There's 25, 30 young people with me here this evening. That's half of the jobs," said Gary Horton to the council. Horton is the executive director of the Quality of Life Learning Center.

However, city council says they don't have extra funds to put towards the new program, and that the city already funds its own summer recreation and jobs program.

"The city has been a big part of the summer jobs program for the city of Erie," said Jim Winarski, city council member. "On a tune alone of over $700,000 dollars (for recreation and jobs), so to try to get more money - we're already participating and we're participating in a big way," he said.

Winarski also says it's not clear cut that a new jobs program would help reduce violence.

"You can't just attribute it (the violence) to youth not having jobs, because there's still school going on. Even if you're not going to school and have a job, not many kids are going to be at their jobs at 11 o'clock at night," he said, referring to the gun violence already erupting in Erie, with many of the incidences happening later at night.

However, supporters of a bigger summer jobs program might still get their wish. The Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority will vote on granting another $100,000 towards the program on Thursday.

The Erie Community Foundation and the Venango Training and Development Center are still working on organizing employers and developing the application process for the county's summer job program.

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