Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Apr 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Plenty of Work

plentofwork2Stimulus money funds Summer Youth Employment Program

JoAnne Allen was 15 years old when she got her first job working at a department store. Looking back, Allen, now the manager of Student Support Services at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (CoE), is thankful for having been an employed teen.

 

“It showed me that I really wanted to be in the world of work and that I needed to get through high school so I could go to college,” she remembers. “It showed me a path that high school didn’t even show me, because it was real experience.”

Allen is hoping that the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), a current effort of the CoE, will help local youth feel the same. The program will enroll 300 youth between the ages of 14 and 24 for six weeks of summertime employment at various job sites around the county. Their wages, and other costs of running the program, will be paid for with stimulus dollars.

As bits and pieces of the $787.2 million Recovery Act begin to trickle down into plain view, “shovel-ready” projects and pre-existing programs are being favored as recipients of the funds. Part of the package allocates funds for Youth Formula Grants through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. Because the CoE was the area’s pre-existing provider of WIA youth services, they are the recipients for this portion of federal funding. The CoE youth employment services previously worked with 250 low-income youth in South County and foster children county-wide, but is putting the new funding toward expanding its services.

“I wanted to open it to the whole world, but it’s not,” says Allen. “But it’s broadening because right now we only serve Watsonville. We can now serve the remainder of the county youth that meet our criteria, which is exciting.”

The criteria has also changed to fit the federal guidelines, making it easier for youth to be eligible. Whereas WIA previously required four eligibility measures and held to a maximum age of 21, applicants to SYEP only have to meet federal low income and readiness to work guidelines (the latter of which requires citizenship or a green card). Foster children automatically qualify, although those aging out of foster care still must meet the aforementioned guidelines. Over 400 youth have registered on the SYEP website, http://tinyurl.com/SYEPworksite , in anticipation of the April 24 application deadline.

Once enrolled, the 300 selected youth will undergo orientation, job skill training and interview processes before beginning their jobs, internships or apprenticeships in their area of interest. This year, Allen says the focus will be on getting youth in green careers, but they will also have opportunities in medical fields, law enforcement, community based organizations, hospitality, construction and more. “Whatever the youth is interested in, if we don’t already have a job we will call those types of places and solicit a partnership to them,” she says.

The county’s unemployment rate recently hit 12.6 percent, and is as high as 25.7 percent in Watsonville. With so many adults out of work, why is it so important to employ the youth? When teens have jobs they are less likely to get into trouble, says Allen, but they are also made into more active consumers. “If you make money, you spend money in the community, which stimulates the local economy,” she says. She adds that the program will also prepare them to enter the workforce as more qualified, experienced adults.

“This is not like summer job programs of the past. We aren’t just sticking them in jobs to get them money in their pocket,” she says. “We’re looking at what their goals and interests are, and aligning it with educational goals.”

While most of the WIA funds are for summer programs, the CoE hopes to spread them out to help run a yearlong program. They also plan to run SYEP again next summer, with hopes of having it become a permanent fixture in Santa Cruz County even after the federal funding has run out. Currently, they are looking for more work sites in the area to partner with them for this summer’s pilot program.

Allen sees the program as an opportunity for the whole county to benefit. “It’s something positive amidst everything going negative because of budgets,” she says.


Contact Scott Hill at 831-466-5709, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , for more information. Deadline to apply for SYEP is April 24.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise