77th Annual Meeting

INVESTING IN AMERICA'S YOUTH

WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors is committed to promoting the well-being and positive development of the nation's young people; and

WHEREAS, mayors know how early work experience and educational enrichment opportunities lead to academic improvement for millions of at-risk youth, and youth who work are more apt to stay in school, finish high school, and pursue post-secondary education and/or vocational training; and

WHEREAS, the labor market for the nation's teens has deteriorated considerably since 2000, when 45% of U.S. teens had summer jobs, to the historic low of only 32.7% in the summer of 2008; and

WHEREAS, matching the youth unemployment crisis is the nation's troubling dropout or poor graduation rate: only about half (53%) of all young people in the nation's 50 largest cities are graduating from high school on time; nationwide one in three high school students fail to graduate with a diploma and nearly fifty percent (50%) of African-American and Hispanic youth are not completing high school on time; and

WHEREAS, by 2010 the largest segment of the nation's labor force will be teens and young adults as 41 million new workers enter the workforce begin to replace 76 million retiring workers; and

WHEREAS, millions of young people are being left behind, disconnected from school and the world of work, and unable to participate in the U.S. and global economy; and

WHEREAS, only a significant sustained reinvestment in all youth, but most especially young people with low educational attainment and poor connections to work, will reconnect them to the economic mainstream; and

WHEREAS, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) provides the nation's only comprehensive youth system to improve the education and training prospects for at-risk in-school and out-of-school youth; and

WHEREAS, WIA was up for renewal in 2003, but reauthorization has stalled in Congress; and

WHEREAS, at-risk youth have been severely underserved since 2000 with the elimination of a separate funding stream for a summer jobs program; and

WHEREAS, a well-organized federally-funded stand-alone summer jobs program brings immediate and long-term benefits to teen workers, their local communities, and the business sector; and

WHEREAS, developing skills to be productive workers, learning about various industries, and participating in the adult world of work are all important aspects of cultivating the next generation of workers; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Labor's WIA Youth Opportunity Grants represented a major commitment to addressing these conditions and increasing the long-term employability of youth living in the poorest communities in our country; and

WHEREAS, the authorization for the Youth Opportunity Grants ended in 2004; and

WHEREAS, Congress and the Administration made a major investment in youth through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with a one-time $1.2 billion appropriation for WIA youth activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to make a sustained major investment in our nation's youth to address the unmet needs of youth who have been adversely affected since 2000 and particularly during this economic downturn; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this regular investment provides funding for a new stand-alone non-means tested Summer Jobs initiative to generate summer jobs and learning opportunities for at-risk youth who are in-school and out-of-school which includes:

  • Promoting career exploration across a variety of industries and fields helping young people learn more about their interests, aptitudes and the ways these can be applied in the local labor market; and

  • Providing internships allowing students to combine academic and employment pursuits; and

  • Encouraging summer work experiences that include education and training in areas of financial literacy, work-readiness, post-secondary education, career exploration and health awareness; and

  • Developing connections to local school curricula so lessons learned at work relate to academics; and

  • Developing training for youth supervisors; and

  • Ensuring summer work experiences are appropriate, fulfilling and lead to jobs of the future; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that in WIA reauthorization legislation, The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to:

  • Maintain separate authorizations and appropriations for all WIA employment and training formula program; and

  • Continue its commitment to a strong Summer Jobs program, by providing $3.84 billion in funding in FY2010 appropriations legislation for summer and year round youth activities which is equivalent to FY2000 funding levels (adjusted for inflation), sustaining the levels included in ARRA and answering Senator Kennedy's call for an additional $2 billion in youth funding; and

  • Add youth joblessness as a criterion for determining the funding formula for youth activities; and

  • Provide flexibility to local areas to allow for a wide range of programs and strategies, including summer jobs,

  • Provide training and apprenticeship programs that prepare young people for jobs in a green economy; and

  • Authorize and provide separate appropriation for a stand-alone summer jobs program; and

  • Retain services to both in-school and out-of-school youth,

  • Preserve in-school youth programs and in-school services for 14 and 15 year olds; and

  • Maintain the focus on youth development; and

  • Ensure that any new targeted grant program for youth be available for both in-school and out-of-school youth, particularly those in high poverty communities and that it must be funded only in excess of the $1 billion dedicated for the youth formula program; and

  • Raise the age for eligibility of services under the WIA youth formula program to 24; and

  • Streamline the eligibility determination process and expand income and group eligibility requirements so that youth who already qualify for other federal programs may also qualify for WIA; and

  • Amend accountability and performance measures that would provide incentives for programs to serve young people with low academic or basic skills and allow for longer periods of program participation and services that will lead to greater successful outcomes; and

  • Maintain local Workforce Investment Boards (WIB) and local Youth Councils (YC); and

  • Protect local control and flexibility for the local WIBs and YCs to develop and implement their comprehensive local plan to address the workforce development needs of the local area; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any authorization and appropriation for new programs not be made at the expense of the current formula grant program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any change in the youth formula allocation and any formula for new programs like the Youth Challenge Grants be substantially weighted to reflect the population to which the funds are targeted, such as high school drop outs, court-involved youth, and youth aging out of foster care; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to incorporate lessons learned from the Youth Opportunity (YO) Grant program into WIA reauthorization and incorporate the YO philosophy of long term, comprehensive support focused on youth development into all youth workforce policies and programs.