Youth Visit Legislators in Albany to Campaign for Summer Jobs

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On Tuesday, January 29, youth from The Children’s Aid Society’s Lasting Investments in Neighborhood Connections (LINC) program traveled to Albany with other young people from all around the city to meet with state legislators as part of the annual Youth Action Day. These young adults, LINC participants from Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank and the Next Generation Centers, wanted to demonstrate to elected officials the importance of summer jobs and the positive effects programs such as Summer Youth Employment (SYEP) have on the youth of New York City. LINC is a juvenile justice re-entry program operated by The Children’s Aid Society. Its participants are youth who have returned home from juvenile justice facilities and are matched with a life coach who works with them to increase their social and emotional competencies and decrease their probability of recidivism. SYEP is especially important to this group set as they work towards once again blending with their families and communities, and it helps to increase their employability by giving them new skill sets and work experience.

The Youth Action Day in Albany is put together by the Campaign for Summer Jobs, a coalition of more than 100 organizations that provide summer employment to youth all over New York City. Since 1999, the Campaign for Summer Jobs has mobilized young people, youth organizations and communities to fight for continued funding of SYEP. Due to cuts in federal, state and city funding, the city’s SYEP had about 22,000 fewer jobs in the summer of 2012 than in 2009. Given these cuts, this year’s annual Youth Action Day was an important way for legislators hear about the positive influences that the SYEP program has on young people.

The day’s agenda included a youth rally in the Legislative Office Building, at which State Senators and Assembly Members from all over the city addressed the crowd. The rally also included dance and spoken word performances by youth, and an open mic discussion for all to take part in. Youth organizations also had the opportunity for more intimate meetings with the offices of the state legislators later on in the day.

For many, including youth from The Children’s Aid Society, summer employment is a way to stay off the streets and contribute to their households. Youth also use income earned during their summer youth employment to buy school supplies—which are often very expensive—for the upcoming year. All SYEP participants make lasting connections and build relationships in the workplace while expanding their resume. Whatever the reason for taking part in SYEP, they all have positive outcomes for our youth. We need to continue to fight for more SYEP opportunities to ensure that young people are using their time off from school productively and that as a city we are making a lasting investment in the next generation.

For more information on the Campaign for Summer Jobs and what you can do to help, click here.