Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Riot response: jobs for teens

3,000 will have summer work

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Business and political leaders on Tuesday unveiled a $2.2 million plan to create 3,000 summer jobs for teen-agers.

        The plan — on the heels of the worst riots Cincinnati has seen in 30 years — isn't meant to be a cure for the region's problems, but supporters say it will keep kids off the street this summer.

        “I don't want to tout this as a solution,” Mayor Charlie Luken said, referring to the unrest that began with the April 7 police shooting of Timothy Thomas.

[photo] Procter & Gamble chairman John Pepper (right) and council members Alicia Reece and Paul Booth at a press conference announcing a summer jobs program.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
        Despite the seeming abundance of available jobs, Mr. Luken and others said their plan, called the Summer Youth Employment Initiative, will give low-income youths a chance to link skills to employers.

        The effort, which involves several religious, social, city and county agencies, will begin with an extensive job fair on May 19.

        Funding would come from three sources: Hamilton County, which is promising to use $1.5 million in welfare reform money; up to $300,000 from Cincinnati; and $400,000 from the empowerment zone board.

        The money would be channeled primarily through the Urban League, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative and Community Action Agency, and would supplement various work programs.

        Among them:

        • Minor construction jobs through the Cincinnati Public Schools refurbishment project.

        • Construction jobs and an administrative office training program at the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority.

        • Summer internships and computer training programs through faith-based organizations.

        • Jobs through the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.

        Several private companies — including Frisch's, Kroger and Paramount's Kings Island — have offered to sponsor training programs and pay salaries for summer help.

        The job drive is a component of a race relations panel announced last week by Mr. Luken to help address economic and social problems in the wake of the riots.

        Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman John Pepper, who spearheaded the initiative, said it is the result of several meetings in the last week.

        Oscar Britton, executive director of the youth collaborative, said the increased funding will allow his agency to reach youth in new ways.

        He suggested taking a mobile human-resource office “into the neighborhoods where they live.” There, kids could apply for work permits and get physical exams needed to apply for the summer jobs.

        Last year, Mr. Britton said his agency received 4,000 applications for 2,500 jobs.

        Several council members said they would vote in favor of the $300,000, but Councilman Phil Heimlich questioned the need for it.

        “We are about $750,000 short on helping to fix business damaged in the riots,” he said. “If we have $300,000 laying around somewhere, then that's where it ought to go.”


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