Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Job creation for teens dwindling

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DOWNTOWN - Organizers of an effort to create jobs for Cincinnati's youth expect to employ just 1,100 teenagers this summer - about half as many as when the program started three years ago.

Representatives from the Citizens Committee on Youth and the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative gave the projections Tuesday before City Council's health, tourism, small business and employment committee.

Myrtis Powell, president and chief executive of the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, said only 800-900 subsidized jobs are guaranteed for 14- to 16-year olds. Subsidized jobs are filled by nonprofit organizations and paid for by city government, foundations and others.

Another 300 unsubsidized jobs provided by the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati through private employers are less certain.

"Those jobs are not guaranteed," Powell said. "A lot will depend on the economy and what employers are doing."

The two organizations, which oversee the Youth Employment Initiative and other job programs, responded to questions from council about employment opportunities for teens this summer.

Vice Mayor Alicia Reece took up the issue after last week's disturbance in Winton Hills, where angry residents took to the streets and shot at police after a police suspect fatally shot himself. Residents there told community monitors at the scene that they were upset, in part, by the lack of jobs for African-American youth.

Three years ago, business and political leaders unveiled a $2.2 million plan to create 3,000 summer jobs for teenagers. The plan came on the heels of the worst riots Cincinnati had seen in 30 years and was designed to keep kids off the streets.

Funding for the program was provided by the city of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and the business community.

During its first year, the program put about 2,000 youths to work - 1,000 jobs short of what was promised. That number has steadily declined since.

The city allocates $247,500 a year to the Youth Employment and Development Initiative. In addition, the city also gives $247,500 to Citizens Committee on Youth's Youth Conservation Corps and $244,500 to the Youth Employment and Training Program.

Another $1.57 million in city funds goes to the Workforce Investment Act to support year-round job training for youth.

The city will subsidize 211 of the 1,100 jobs this year, Powell said.

Another 600 jobs are being subsidized through a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

To register for available jobs, and if you are 14-16 years old, call (513) 632-5100, or (513) 458-7970


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