This summer, over 1,000 youth will be working through the Mayors Summer Jobs Program, thanks to a major donation from the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA).
After federal funding for the program dwindled, OHA along with other major donors stepped in to make up the difference and this year 40 percent more youth will have summer jobs.
The program has partnered with local agencies including the George P. Scotlan Center Youth & Family Center, Lao Family Community Development, The Unity Council, the East Bay Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation, Youth Uprising, and Youth Employment Partnership to employ over 1,300 young people. Jobs will last six weeks with youth working in office administration, childcare, recreation centers, and other city jobs.
“This effort to provide our young men and women the access to their first job, is something that can have a profound impact on them for the rest of their lives,” said OHA Executive Director Eric Johnson.
Seeking to grow the program, the Mayor’s Office fundraised and received help from donors including OHA, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, East Bay Community Foundation, Ramsell, Recology, Kaiser Permanente, and The Clorox Company. This was the first year OHA worked with the program as the largest donor providing stipends for 300 OHA youth residents to support job training.
However, none of the funds towards the program came directly from the city and local agencies say more funding is still needed to serve the youth of Oakland. Berkeley and Richmond both have a program, YouthWorks, that offers summer employment to youth funded directly through the city.
“We want the city to have more funding for us to serve every youth so they can get the work experience they need,” said Tracy Vo, a youth counselor at Lao Family Community Development which is employing 35 youth this year.
“Many youth do not have summer jobs. We need year-round funding to keep the program running for those who are interested.”
The Scotlan Center, a multiple partner in the Mayors Summer Jobs Program, hired youth through the program this summer. Last year, the center did not participate due to a lack of funding.
“The city is really concentrating on youth having sustainable employment during the summer,” said Morris Larry, fiscal officer at the Scotlan Center. “The need is so great that it can never be enough to keep the kids in a safe and workable environment. We’re going to need some local and private funding inside the city to help out.”