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Baltimore Summer Jobs Program Launches Careers

October 4, 2010

“YouthWorks made me a stronger person with better communication skills and more confidence,” said Deonte Bailey, a public high school senior at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School. “I was also able to pay for school uniforms, textbooks and save up for a car.”

Deonte is one of the 5,400 youth who experienced the positive impact a productive 2010 summer job can have on a young person. The YouthWorks 2010 theme, Summer jobs launch careers, illustrated how this program can be the beginning of a successful career journey for our future workforce. Baltimore youth and young adults, ages 14-24, were taught what it means to be productive at a job while being exposed to a variety of careers.

Local Leadership Leads to Long'standing Success

For more than 30 years Baltimore has successfully operated its annual summer jobs program, even when stand-alone federal funds ceased to exist. With support from individual donors, business and philanthropic contributors, and local, state and federal government, youth from all over the city work in summer jobs each year. And 2010 was no exception, even in a sluggish economy.

“I am pleased that despite the challenge of facing the worst budget crisis in our modern history, Baltimore was able to provide the same amount of funding for YouthWorks as last year,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Baltimore’s Congressional Delegation was successful in supporting YouthWorks by securing a Department of Labor grant of $575,000. The grant created the Baltimore Career Corps project that provided YouthWorks summer jobs in high growth industries at more than 20 worksites.

Senator Benjamin Cardin, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Congressman John Sarbanes and representatives for Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger joined Rawlings-Blake at a press conference on July 19 to celebrate the grant and meet Baltimore Career Corps YouthWorkers.

“In Baltimore, our YouthWorks summer jobs program is everyone’s business,” said Karen Sitnick, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development and President of the United States Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council. “Mayor Rawlings-Blake sees youth employment as a priority for her administration and engages stakeholders from all sectors.”

Worksites Provide Range of Work Experiences

A group of 14 YouthWorkers participated in B’more for Healthy Babies, a Baltimore Health Department initiative built on the necessity of involving the community to help reduce the number of infant deaths.

The Baltimore Career Corps project gave YouthWorkers the opportunity to advance in high-growth industries such as healthcare, law and business services. Funded by the Department of Labor Grant secured by Baltimore’s Congressional Delegation, the Baltimore Career Corps project provided 300 YouthWorkers with summer jobs in career-oriented positions.

These YouthWorkers gained a variety of experiences, such as viewing X-rays at Sinai Hospital, witnessing criminal cases in the court room at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, and greeting customers at dolphin shows at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Sinai Hospital of Baltimore staff supervised four YouthWorkers who worked in the Orthopedics Department, Emergency Room Radiology Department and the Catheterization Labs.

Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE) senior Shamika Kelly and Dunbar High School senior Tyrone Turner assisted technicians and radiology specialists in the ER Radiology Department under the supervision of ER Technician Carl Carlton. Tyrone and Shamika helped prepare patients for X-rays and provided portable equipment for patients with disabilities.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore supervised and trained 24 YouthWorkers at four department locations. The youth worked in customer service, accounting, administration, admissions and custodial services.

The National Aquarium is an active worksite for YouthWorks, advancing professional job experiences for students and providing some long-term employment opportunities. The 2010 YouthWorkers performed so well that 13 were offered positions at the end of the summer program, adding to the six that were hired after summer 2009.

Bais Yaakov School for Girls graduate, Tehillah Diamond, and Baltimore City College High School Senior, Samiah Rahim learned the basics of law and criminal justice at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. By viewing live trials in the courtroom, both YouthWorkers learned about the essential responsibilities of a lawyer. They also organized files for court cases and read transcripts at the Forensics Division.

YouthWorks Supervisory Training

Supervisors are essential to the success of the program. YouthWorks provided supervisory training that included a workshop to prepare city youth employers. Supervisors attended a mentorship training workshop where they learned effective communication techniques and how to identify the strengths and skills of younger employees.

Financial literacy was an essential part of the workshop training, emphasizing smart budgeting and financial awareness. The financial literacy training session provided online interactive tools, games and activities for worksite supervisors to use when teaching the youth how to manage their money.

“To me it’s a sense of giving back to young adults of Baltimore,” said Mitch Oliver, a YouthWorks supervisor who attended the training. Several years ago Oliver, himself, benefited from a city summer job at Johns Hopkins University.

The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development has already begun planning for the 2011 summer program. For more information, visit the website or call Ernest Dorsey at 410-396-6722.