Mayor Ed Murray recently announced that his Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative has created nearly 2,000 positions for young people across the city, from summer jobs through Seattle Parks and other City agencies, to internships at private-sector employers. Financial support from private donors generated twice as many opportunities for Seattle youth as last year.
“In this year’s State of the City, I called for double the number of positions for Seattle youth,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “Our private-sector leaders are expanding the youth employment program with new opportunities and energy. Through these partnerships, young people will develop new skills for success in the workplace, building toward a bright future.”
To support the effort, JPMorgan Chase awarded the City of Seattle $500,000 over two years to fund youth internships and deliver national best practices to increase employer engagement in the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative. Russell Investments and Russell Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation have pledged an additional $75,000 to fund internships.
“I can think of no better way for the private sector to invest in our city than by embracing our youth,” said Councilmember John Okamoto. “Employers participating in the Mayor’s initiative are developing talent that will drive our economic future.”
Starbucks Coffee Company has hired interns this summer, along with other private sector contributors, including Amazon, Bank of America, The Boeing Company, Center for Infectious Disease Research, Google, Ivar’s, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Swedish Medical Center, and Vulcan.
In Seattle, the youth unemployment rate is over 13 percent and for low‐income youth and young people of color, it’s even worse. Nationally, youth unemployment is 12.1 percent in June 2015, double the 5.3 percent national average.
“As a major employer and partner of our K-12 schools, community colleges, and non-profit workforce training providers, JPMorgan Chase views closing the Skills Gap and providing meaningful career pathways to good paying jobs as two of the most crucial issues of our time,” said JPMorgan Chase Chairman of the Pacific Northwest, Phyllis Campbell. “We feel our support of the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative is an important way we are helping to build the long-term success of the local economy.”
This year, through the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative, eligible youth and young adults will receive paid work experience in positions at various city departments and at private sector placements based on their career interest. To date, the City has identified 1,972 positions and expects to surpass the goal of 2,000 opportunities well before the end of the year.
“When you give a young person their first summer job, you’re opening up a pathway to meaningful employment and lifelong opportunity,” said Blair Taylor, chief community officer for Starbucks, which is participating in this year’s program and plans to hire 10,000 disconnected youth across the U.S. by 2018. “This is ultimately about coming together to provide the skills, training and job opportunities young people need to participate in the 21st century economy.”
Employment opportunities for young people not only provide needed income and skills training, they can result in healthier, safer lives for youth. In one Chicago study, for example, young people from high-crime neighborhoods were nearly half as likely to be victims of violent crime when they had summer jobs.
The Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative has been able to leverage $855,080 of private sector funding to match the $2.5 million investment of the Human Services Department’s General Funds. These contributions were critical for expanding this year’s summer youth employment program, and to further expand the program moving forward.
“Russell Investments is proud to support the much-needed Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative,” said Len Brennan, president and CEO of Russell Investments. “Increasing employment and internship opportunities for Seattle’s youth continues a nearly 80-year tradition of helping improve the quality of life for people in the communities where our associates live and work.”
The summer internship program is open to youth and young adults, ages 14-24 who live in Seattle. In 2015, Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative received over 3,700 internship applications, up from 432 youth applications last year—an increase of 81 percent.
It is expected that the demand of young people seeking employment will continue to grow in the coming years.
To ensure that all eligible youth are able to participate in the program, the City of Seattle is inviting additional employers to participate either by hosting internships next summer or during the school year. If employers are unable to host interns, they can contribute to the pool of funds to pay the wages of students placed at other companies.