CITY OF NEW YORK
The Commission on Youth Empowerment Services (YES) was established by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in March 1996 to address the employment needs of New York City's youth, and in anticipation of the complete elimination of federal funding for the 1996 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) which had provided for roughly 32,000 summer jobs for New York City youth in 1995. Under the leadership of the Mayor, the YES Commission is responsible for increasing the involvement of the private sector by identifying and developing meaningful job opportunities, finding and training youngsters for those jobs, and raising the necessary funding.
While the Commission's mandate is much broader in scope, the most pressing priority in 1996 was to maximize the number of jobs available to the City's youth during the summer months. In May, after a great deal of advocacy in Washington, the City's share of the SYEP program was reinstated at 70 percent of the 1995 level. Despite this, the City was confronted by an additional 22,672 youth who applied for summer employment but were denied because of limited funding. If there had been time for recruitment efforts to be implemented, it is estimated that close to 70,000 applications would have been received, but due to a lack of funding, approximately 50,000 youth would be turned away with no summer jobs.
The goal of the Commission in 1996 was to provide at least one more job than the total 38,928 public and private sector summer jobs available in 1995. This meant compensating for the dramatic 30 percent cut in federal funding for 1996. To do this, an Inter-organizational Task Force was formed to bring together public, not-for-profit and private sector organizations to share summer job information and ensure the efficient use of all available resources. Through the Task Force, the YES Commission played a central role in coordinating the summer youth employment efforts of numerous organizations within the public and private sectors, including the New York City Department of Employment, which administers the SYEP program at the local level, the New York City Housing Authority, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York City Partnership/Chamber of Commerce, the New York State Department of Labor, and United Way of New York City and its seven major social services federations in New York City.
The City of New York increased its commitment to the summer jobs program by funding 3,800 summer jobs in 1996, up from 3,000 jobs funded in 1995. In addition, symbolizing the importance of youth employment, the City of New York proposed a challenge to the private sector by committing an extra $1 million for 1,000 additional summer slots. This provided for approximately 30,000 summer youth employment slots administered by the New York City Department of Employment. Operating as a working group, the YES Commission was successful in rallying the Task Force to not only meet the goal but to develop 608 more jobs than the previous summer, for a total of 39,536 summer jobs in 1996.
The threat of diminished government funding and changes in the local economy have contributed to the problem of too few jobs for New York City's youth. However, the success of the Summer 1996 program came only as a result of combined and comprehensive public and private sector efforts. The YES Commission has opened new lines of communication between the public and private sector, successfully forged new partnerships and laid groundwork for launching additional youth empowerment initiatives in the future.
Contact: New York City Department of Employment, (212) 442-2157.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.