CHICAGO – Continuing his commitment to help Illinois youth stay focused and positive, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced that this year’s Summer Youth Works program set a record of employing over 10,000 youth, up from approximately 740 jobs last summer.
Summer Youth Works 2008 provided employment opportunities for young people throughout Illinois to keep them engaged in positive activities. The initiative offered jobs that focused on community service, community and highway beautification, job training programs and pre-professional training. The Summer Youth Works program is coordinated though the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
“Summer jobs gave me the opportunity to be engaged in positive activities as a teenager. For some of our youth, having a summer job means earning money and providing real alternatives to gangs and violence,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Programs like this make a difference for communities that are suffering from crime and increased violence. I’m proud we were able to help a record number of kids this past summer.”
Rev. Marrice Converson, director of the Institute for Positive Living (IPL), which served as one of the Chicago providers, praised the summer jobs program.
“This was the administration’s third year of conducting the summer employment program and proved to be the greatest and most fulfilling challenge thus far. It was amazing to see the determination and passion in these kids as they learned important skills that will carry them into adulthood,” said Rev. Coverson. “We were happy to be able to place kids in positions that will directly impact their future goals.”
The 2008 program has engaged the most youth, brought together the most community-based organizations, and marked the most collaboration between state agencies.
“We felt a sense of accomplishment after completing our work. Not only did we feel good about ourselves, but we earned money needed for school clothes, supplies and fees. I felt good about being able to contribute to my financial well-being,” said Clarissa M. Padill, a youth employed by the Summer Youth Works program through Mujeras Latinas, a community provider.
The Summer Youth Works initiative began in early July and ran for approximately eight weeks, until Labor Day. The students worked under the supervision of community providers throughout the state.
“Youth from disadvantaged communities need access to employment opportunities now more than ever. These jobs taught kids to be responsible and kept them out of trouble,” said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams. “We look forward to continuing this program every summer so that thousands of kids in struggling areas across the state will have the chance to not only develop new skills, but earn some money while doing so. At the same time, we are playing a big part in preparing them for future success. Just imagine what thousands of kids working hard to improve their community and help turn it around can do for Illinois.”
IDOT is another state agency that employs teens during the summer months.
“IDOT is tremendously excited about the opportunity every summer to harness the creativity and energy of so many young people and to put their talents to use in improving our transportation system and beautifying our communities,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “Having started out my career in the transportation field as summer intern for IDOT, I am keenly aware of how even one summer of experience can open up new horizons for a young person who is trying to chart a course for their future.”