Surrounded by young people who spent their summer working, Mayor Greg Fischer today declared the 2017 SummerWorks season a big success, with more than 5,200 youth ages 16-21 employed – breaking last year’s record total.
That number includes 800 youth employed by companies and organizations that directly teamed with the city and KentuckianaWorks to provide more extensive career training, led by a new SummerWorks partner, YouthBuild. Overall, a record 150 employers hired youth this summer.
“This year’s program was focused on creating deeper, more effective learning experiences for our youth participants, and YouthBuild did a phenomenal job in leading this effort,” the Mayor said. “Our 800 core placements received training to create résumés and prepare for job interviews, as well as coaching throughout the summer from YouthBuild staff or key private sector employer-partners. This effort helps us ensure that Louisville is a city of opportunity for all our young people.”
At a season-closing event at Kentucky Kingdom, two of those 800 young people shared their summer job experiences.
Munirah Sajjida, 17, said she has “loved my work” at the non-profit Plymouth Community Center. Munirah, who had been struggling with school attendance issues and other problems, also participates in the city’s ReImage program, designed to keep court-involved youth from getting into further trouble. She credited the SummerWorks program and ReImage with helping to get her life headed in a positive direction.
Jon Russell, who was hired back for a second summer as an assistant in human resources at Fourth Street Live! said his SummerWorks job “has given me skills that will be valuable to my dream of opening my own department store.”
Fourth Street Live! presented him with a scholarship, which he will use to attend the University of Kentucky. The company plans to award a scholarship yearly to a SummerWorks youth.
Mayor Fischer said such SummerWorks’ “employer champions” hired youth, ages 16-21, for jobs in hospitals, restaurants, groceries, banks and hotels. Working closely with supervisors and mentors, young people worked on manufacturing assembly lines and grocery check-out lanes, assisted companies with their IT and human resources needs, helped process insurance claims, worked in pharmacies and helped ship packages around the world.
Several of Louisville’s largest companies greatly increased their hiring, including GE Appliances, Ford, Humana and Kindred Healthcare.
Employers new to the program included 21st Century Parks, Coastal Cloud, Hilliard Lyons, Hyatt Hotel, McDonald’s local franchises, MedAssist, MSD, Speed Art Museum, University of Louisville and Workwell Industries.
A combination of public and private funding sponsored SummerWorks jobs at more than 85 non-profit organizations and city agencies, including Boys and Girls Clubs, Kentucky Shakespeare, the Food Literacy Project, Louisville Metro Police, Louisville Fire, EMS, Metro Parks, Family Health Centers, Americana Community Center and Louisville Grows.
Funding for those jobs included $600,000 that the Mayor and Metro Council placed in last year’s city budget, as well as $100,000 each from the James Graham Brown Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the family of businessman Paul Diaz.
This year, SummerWorks expanded its focus on creating job experiences that build entrepreneurial skills in young people. Small grants were provided to six partner organizations that helped youth learn to start their own business, learn computer coding, and gain invaluable on-the-job training in the medical field, building trades, and technology.
“We are thrilled to see this initiative grow and evolve in both the quantity of and quality of the job opportunities young people are able to experience,” said Michael Gritton, executive director of KentuckianaWorks, which operates the SummerWorks program.
Many of the companies joining SummerWorks this year were recruited by Greater Louisville Inc., the Metro Chamber of Commerce.
“GLI was pleased to partner with the Mayor’s SummerWorks Program and successfully recruit 30 new GLI investor companies and create 225 summer jobs for youth in our community,” said Kent Oyler, president & CEO of Greater Louisville Inc. “Hands-on experience in the workplace is critical for raising young persons’ expectations and building a quality workforce.”
The Mayor launched SummerWorks right after taking office in 2011, in response to the elimination of federal funding for summer jobs. That first year, 200 young people were placed in jobs. The program was recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2014 as one of the nation’s best summer jobs programs for young people.
SummerWorks continues to work closely with Jefferson County Public Schools to place students in jobs that match up with what they are learning in school, and jobs in the key business sectors the city is strategically growing, such as technology, healthcare and business services.
Other companies participating included the Belle of Louisville, GlowTouch Technologies, Harland Clarke, Louisville Urban League, Louisville Zoo, Norton Healthcare, Oxmoor Auto Group, Speedway, Thorntons and YMCA of Greater Louisville.
The Mayor urged employers to make plans now to hire or support summer jobs for 2018. More information is at https://www.summerworks.org/