Record number of youths find jobs with help of city agency

September 04, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A record number of Baltimore youths found summer jobs this year through a program that seeks to educate teens and build career skills.

The Mayor's Office of Employment Development placed 5,000 youths in jobs - 800 more than last year - under a program funded by city, state and federal grants as well as by donations from the private sector.

"This year's summer jobs program was an outstanding success," Mayor Martin O'Malley said Thursday.

The $5.5 million program, known as Summer YouthWorks, offers job assistance for students from schools in low-income areas.

This year, the program placed 14- to 21-year-olds in clerical, retail and food-preparation posts at city law firms, hospitals, the Social Security Administration, supermarkets and hotels. Some assisted in labs at the University of Maryland's professional schools.

The jobs help jump-start careers, officials said.

"We know there's a direct correlation between kids starting work early and earning capacity in the future," said Karen L. Sitnick, director of the mayor's employment office.

The growth in the program was due in large part to a $1 million allocation the city made in creating Operation Opportunity: Mayor's Youth Corps 2001, officials said. That paid for 500 spots for city youths and 50 supervisory positions for college students working on city beautification projects, said Chris Broda-Bahm, spokeswoman for the employment development office.

Officials would like to see the program expand next year.

"We're obviously going to be looking for more corporate funds to do this," Broda-Bahm said.

Surrounded by this summer's participants Thursday, O'Malley told the youths that they are essential for the city.

"I need each and every one of you, OK?" the mayor said. "You're the leaders of today for your peers."

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