Baltimore YouthWorks program to offer 8,000 summer jobs to young people

The Baltimore YouthWorks program will hire 8,000 young people for the summer.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh announced Monday the launch of this year's YouthWorks, an annual city program that provides 8,000 summer jobs to young people in the city.

The five-week program, which had more than 14,000 applications from youths aged 14 to 21, is supported by public grants, private philanthropy and employers offering summer positions and internships. The minimum-wage jobs are at nearly 1,000 different work sites in various fields, including energy, health care, hospitality and tourism, finance, construction, law and government.

"There are young people out there who not only want to work, but need to work," the mayor said. "Some are looking for a vision for their future. If you don't open your companies and your corporations and your nonprofits to them, they don't get a chance to see their future."

The program had offered 5,000 summer jobs per year until the 2015 unrest, when donations flooded in and increased capacity by 3,000 jobs. The city hopes to add even more in future years, and Pugh called for other companies to offer job opportunities.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which hosted the news conference at its downtown headquarters, will hire 25 students from four city high schools for the summer through its Smart Energy Workforce Development Program, which prepares students for entry-level, trade-specific positions, BGE CEO Calvin Butler said.

Between 500 and 1,000 of YouthWorks applicants will be recruited into similar positions by companies such as BGE.

"It's one thing to have a commitment and a passion," Butler said. "It's another thing to say let's take that and put it into action."

Plank Industries, the umbrella company for Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's private business interests, is funding 100 of the summer jobs.

Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said his organization will donate $500,000 in grant money to the program this year. The Baltimore nonprofit, which assists disadvantaged children and their families, also will match donations to YouthWorks up to $250,000.

McCarthy said he learned a lot during his first job, picking blueberries. Chief among them? He didn't want to spend his life picking blueberries.

"That first a job is crucial step to building an entire career," McCarthy said. "They crave these opportunities. They want the chance to work. ... They need this opportunity to work."

Pugh announced that she would personally donate $10,000 to YouthWorks and encouraged her colleagues on the City Council to do the same or give what they can.

Donald C. Fry, CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said the program benefits both the young people and the employers that hire them.

"It's an opportunity for young people to develop skills they don't have traditionally," Fry said. "It's a chance to see what it takes to be in the work force. And it give businesses an opportunity to see what the future workforce capacity is and what needs to be done to develop that further."

Taylor Jones, 17, a senior at Bard High School Early College, said she has participated in YouthWorks for the past two summers and especially enjoyed the chance to prove herself, "gaining your co-workers' respect, because you're the youngest person to work with them."

Jones said she plans to attend either Goucher College or Frostburg State University to pursue a degree in mass communications, with a goal of being a television newscaster. Working at YouthWorks, including an internship with BGE at 16, taught her to communicate with diverse groups of people and interact with co-workers in a work environment, she said.

"At most jobs, they want somebody who's diligent and open to new opportunities," she said.

Contributions to YouthWorks can be made online, and businesses interested in offering summer jobs can learn more and register here. Government agencies, nonprofits and other groups that would like to serve as YouthWorks job sites may register here.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

@cmcampbell6

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