8,000 Baltimore youths employed through summer program

The Baltimore Sun
YouthWorks began its first five-week summer program on Monday.

Some 6,000 Baltimore youths started work Monday as part of the city's YouthWorks summer program.

The five-week employment program gives people ages 14 to 21 opportunities to work in industries such as finance, law, government, health care and tourism. Another five-week session, scheduled to begin July 11, will increase the number of young people employed to around 8,000, according to the Mayor's Office of Employment Development.

YouthWorks typically employs 5,000 people, but city officials expanded the program last year after riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray.

"Last year at this time, Baltimore City was flooded with offers of support to increase its services to young people," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "It made sense to build upon our strong YouthWorks program."

Leaders of participating businesses said the program gives young people a chance to start careers and gain skills.

Supporters and participants include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System, MedStar Health and United Way of Central Maryland. At least eight government agencies are employing youths as well.

Jerry Egan, human resources operations director at MedStar Health, said about 36 YouthWorks employees will assist with patient transportation, meal service and clerical work starting July 11.

YouthWorks "gives them exposure to many areas of the hospital to show them the breadth of what's done in health care," Egan said. "So many jobs in the Baltimore metropolitan area are through health care organizations."

MedStar has hired previous participants in YouthWorks and other school programs, he said.

Rob Dubeau, associate vice president of the United Way for talent, management and diversity, said two young people spent their first day at the office helping with finance and human resources. He said YouthWorks employees will work on computer upgrades, filing and cleaning.

"We have a lot going on right now, so they're really helping pick up the slack in areas where we are needing some help," Dubeau said.

Family League of Baltimore and the International Youth Foundation plan to take youths to city community schools to learn about projects for the schools and nearby communities.

Participants are matched with jobs that reflect their interests, officials say. About half of the youths are 14 to 15 years old; the program provides their first jobs.

In May, Rawlings-Blake called for increased funding for the record 9,400 youths who applied.

Not all who applied in January will end up with a job, said Jason Perkins-Cohen, director of the Mayor's Office of Employment Development. Some found other jobs after applying or are attending a summer camp or school.

About 15 percent of applicants last year did not accept a job offer, he said.

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