Summer Youth Jobs Program Underway - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Summer Youth Jobs Program Underway

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Nearly 100 youths from low-income families applied for summer jobs at the "Erie Summer Jobs and More" fair on Wednesday evening at the Career Link, on 155 W. 8th Street.

It's been organized with the goal of preventing youth violence and helping kids kick start their futures.

After months of demand from the community - with rallies, meetings, and speeches delivered time and time again to City Council and County Council, the job fair marked the first concrete steps for the summer youth jobs program.

"I was excited because there's nobody in Erie to do this for kids, so I'm glad we get this opportunity," said Jimquiesha Thompson, 18, who graduates from Strong Vincent High School on Thursday.

Erie County Council and the Gaming Revenue Authority each approved $100,000 in funding. They contracted the third-party company, Venango Training and Development Center, to source employers and orchestrate the program.

Youths who are between 16-21 years old and within 235 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible to apply for job placement.

"I think everybody's happy they're about to start making some money for the summer," said Travraughn Roberts, a 20-year-old applicant and Erie resident.

Though employers are still being lined up, those who've already committed to participating include the Erie School District, Edinboro University, and Gannon University. Organizers hope the youth working this summer will take away more than just a little cash, but also a positive outlook for the future.

 "We want to involve employers so we can give kids at an earlier age what careers are available and how they can achieve those careers," said John Flanagan, chief operating officer of Venango Training and Development Center.

While the jobs will be entry level and pay minimum wage, with tasks like landscaping, maintenance, and filing, the positions will be with organizations with potential to help youth see room for growth.

Parents also hope their kids will learn some life-long skills from a summer job opportunity.

"Responsibility, getting up in the morning, going to work, having their own money, budgeting," said Tina Austin, whose daughter is applying for a position. "Being proud of getting up and doing what you're doing and having your own paycheck. It's a nice feeling."

The $200,000 dollars of funding will pay the salaries of the employees, as well as provide a 20-hour soft skills training program. With about 18 percent in overhead costs, the remaining funds will create and pay for 100 jobs - 50 in City of Erie, and 50 for the rest of Erie County.

Applicants will be selected at random, and organizers will will make their best effort to put the employees-to-be in a field where they've expressed interest.

Parents and job applicants both say they believe the program will play a role in helping curb youth violence.

"I definitely think it'll help with the violence, a lot of kids will be busy, and they'll be focused on other things," Roberts said.

The job fair continues at the Career Link on Thursday, June 5, from 3-7pm.

Another fair will be held on June 10th at the Union City High School, from 3-7pm.
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