Cincinnati City Council is set to approve $960,000 to fund this year’s Summer Youth Employment Program, but the councilwoman overseeing the process wants to begin collecting data to track outcomes and increase efficiency.
Council’s Budget and Finance Committee this afternoon heard a presentation from city staffers about plans for the 2012 program, which is designed to provide employment and training for low-income youth.
Generally, the program provides jobs for people between the ages of 14-21. The jobs last for 8-10 weeks and participants are paid at Ohio’s minimum wage, which is $7.70 per hour. They typically work about 15 hours each week.
Of the program’s $960,000 cost, $855,000 is paid using federal Community Development Block Grants. The money must be used for local community development activities such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, infrastructure development and eliminating urban blight.
Jobs for youth are available from four employers, three of which receive direct funding from the city. Those are the Green Leaf Program, through the Parks Department, which receives $106,000; the Cincinnati Recreation Department, which receives $189,000; and the ArtWorks program, which receives $120,000.
Additionally, the city will issue a request for proposals from contractors to provide a fourth employment opportunity. The request will be issued Feb. 3, and interested contractors must submit their applications to the city’s Purchasing Department by Feb. 24.
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson is helping develop this year’s program, in conjunction with the city’s Community Development Department.
During the past month, Simpson has worked with previous program administrators to identify potential improvements for the 2012 Summer Youth Employment Program. The changes include implementing standardized pre- and post-program assessments and outcome measures across all programs, and requiring that each program administrator provide a curriculum and data-tracking measures for the job readiness and financial literacy training portions of its program.
The Summer Youth Employment Program is of particular interest to Simpson, 33, because as a teenager, she spent two summers in the program.
“My first job was through this program, at a travel agency, and it taught me the value of hard work.” Simpson said, in a prepared statement. “It gave me confidence in my ability to succeed, and helped lay the foundation for my future.”
The program is important, she added, because it “empowers our young people, keeps them off the streets, and provides them employment and job training skills for the future.”