Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Youngstown Cultural Arts Center is just one of many places in West Seattle where at-risk youth will receive job training this summer.

Summer jobs around West Seattle aim to reduce youth violence

Mayor Greg Nickels announced on June 24 that funds from the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative will help the city put 650 at-risk youth to work this summer, engaging them in positive and productive jobs and many of those jobs will take place in and around West Seattle at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, SafeFutures Youth Center, South Seattle Community College and more.

The 69 young people working in West Seattle will do a variety of jobs including, but not limited to, childcare, reception work, physical labor, educational training and vocational apprenticeships.

Randy Engstrom, founding director of Youngstown, said that he expects the youth working at the cultural center will be able to reference this experience when looking for employment in the future.

"If given an opportunity to be involved in a system that empowers them to learn new skills, young people will be able to carry that forward into other job endeavors," said Engstrom.

In addition to $402,000 from the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, the Seattle Youth Employment Program is receiving $1.1 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the federal stimulus.

As a result, this summer’s employment program will significantly increase the number of participating youth, from 492 last summer to 650 this year.

“One of the best ways to reduce youth violence is to show our young people new opportunities and a bright future," said Nickels. "The city’s summer jobs program will give hundreds of young people new skills and help put them on the right path."

The jobs begin July 6 and last for seven weeks. Youth interns receive minimum wage ($8.55/hr). Youth in group projects receive academic credit and a stipend of $900.

Nickels said he proposed the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative to change how the city deals with youth violence. The initiative is focused on identifying and helping about 800 children a year who are at highest risk of perpetuating violence or becoming victims.

Young people eligible for the program are ages 14 to 17, and include court-involved youth (repeat offenders or youth arrested but not detained); middle school youth with truancy and suspensions; and youth affected by violence.

Federal stimulus money will serve youth between the ages of 16 and 24, who are low income and face barriers, such as disabilities and homelessness. Work experiences will expose youth to careers in high-growth sectors, such as health care, skilled trades, green jobs and technology. For those 18 and older, the jobs will be focused on career-building.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with the city of Seattle using the recovery funding,” said Marléna Sessions, chief executive officer of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. “This summer’s program is the beginning of a sustainable, community-driven summer youth employment program that will continue to grow and benefit youth and employers alike.”

For more information about the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative: http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/issues/youthInitiative.

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