2019 Summer Youth Employment Program Will Serve More Than 1,000 Young People in Greater Hartford

Program supported by more than $2 million from the City of Hartford, the CT Department of Labor and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

HARTFORD – For three summers, Samuel Darko had an opportunity to learn invaluable life skills while earning a paycheck in the Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program (SYELP). Following his freshman year at the CREC Civic Leadership High School, he spent three consecutive summers in the program with three different organizations: the Blue Hills Civic Association, My Place Clinical Services and at the Hartford Boxing Center.

While he enjoyed all three jobs, Darko was most significantly impacted by his time at My Place Clinical Services, where he honed his public speaking skills and build his confidence by engaging in community outreach events in the Blue Hills neighborhood. He also appreciated having the opportunity to interview several entrepreneurs to learn about what it takes to start a business. This fall, Darko will start taking classes at Manchester Community College to earn an Associate’s Degree and plans to attend a four-year college to earn a degree in the health field, perhaps pursuing a career as a physical therapist.

“My experience with the Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program has been nothing but success over the years,” Darko said. “With the help of phenomenal mentors I have acquired many career competency skills that are integral to the progression of my next steps in life. I am truly grateful for all the support and assistance I received from the dedicated staff and mentors at each site.”

With the support of up to $2.1 million (depending on number of students participating) from the City of Hartford (up to $1,000,000), the State of Connecticut/Connecticut Department of Labor (up to $696,000), and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (up to $526,000), the 2019 Summer Youth Employment Learning Program will serve more than 1,000 participants in Hartford and up to 1,500 throughout the region. 

“The Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program is the first opportunity for a real work experience for many youth,” said Capital Workforce Partners’ CEO, Alex Johnson.  “Given the high priority of developing the future talent for the regional workforce, the investments by the Hartford Foundation, City of Hartford and State of Connecticut are critical to providing young people the opportunity to begin to engage in their future career path.”

The Summer Youth Employment Learning Program provides work-based learning experiences that contribute to the future success of Greater Hartford youth in the workforce. Beginning July 8, the six-week program offers career readiness development and up to 120 hours of paid work experience for youth between the ages of 14 and 24. Participants are supported through Capital Workforce Partners with program services through Our Piece of the Pie (OPP), Center for Latino Progress, Community Renewal Team, and Blue Hills Civic Association. The 2019 SYELP core program will also serve high-risk and opportunity youth and work with special initiatives such as the Community Safety Coalition.

“The Summer Youth Employment program helps more than a thousand young people in Hartford build a foundation of skills and experiences that will benefit them for years to come, while earning a paycheck,” said Mayor Luke Bronin.  “We’re proud to work with the Department of Labor, the Hartford Foundation, and Capital Workforce Partners to give these young people important summer work experience that will support their growth.”

The Hartford SYELP has been enhanced to include a Summer Bridge SYELP Program for incoming high school freshmen to OPP for Hartford High School students, Blue Hills Civic Association for Weaver High School students, and the Center for Latino Progress for Bulkeley High School students.

The Summer Bridge SYELP Program, which began on July 8, will provide 30 hours of programming over four consecutive weeks, including reading, math, career competency development and career exploration and development. Special efforts to encourage peer-to-peer mentoring and orientations with students’ their new school staff will support the strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism.

“Investing in Connecticut’s youth is about educating tomorrow’s workforce, keeping our state competitive and building upon our economic development strategies,” said State Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby. “This partnership does much more than employ youth during the summer; it prepares them for successful careers and ensures young workers in all communities have opportunities for success.”

SYELP pairs participants with regional employers where they develop and expand their career-readiness skills in high demand industries and occupations. The program helps young people develop work-readiness and educational skills, such as time management, communications, and teamwork. It also helps them build the confidence they need to work and communicate effectively in a professional environment as they prepare for life beyond high school. In addition, several area businesses are providing hundreds of worksites and adult mentoring opportunities for paid summer interns. 

“The Summer Youth Employment and Learning Program provides hundreds of Greater Hartford youth with a real-world opportunity to learn what takes to hold a job and what’s expected in the workplace,” said Hartford Foundation Director of Grants and Partnerships Judy McBride. “Another core value of the program is that each young person receives a paycheck for the hours they work. Providing youth with an income to assist themselves and their families serves as an impactful youth engagement tool.”