With more than one-third of the nation’s minority youth unemployed, a group of politicians and community activists today stood at Make the Road New York inJacksonHeights today, to continue their push for federal legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk youth. The Urban Jobs Act, they say, would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations, allowing them to carry out programming to prepare youth for employment, particularly those who have dropped out of high school or have been subject to the criminal justice process.
The group included U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens), Assembly Member Francisco Moya (D-Queens), Council Member Julissa Ferreras (D-Queens), Jeanne B. Mullgrav, Commissioner for New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development, Make the Road New York Co-Executive Director Ana Maria Archila and Queens andBrooklyn youth.
“Supporting education and training for ourQueensyouth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This program would give city organizations the tools and resources they need to help our youth prepare for future jobs, find employment opportunities, and reach their full potential. The skills they would acquire through this program are invaluable. Helping our youth compete in this difficult economy will have a lasting, positive impact on our community.”
“We thank Senator Gillibrand for her commitment to dealing with problems that have condemned generations of minority families to a perpetual cycle of dependence and poverty,” said State Senator Peralta. “The Urban Jobs Act takes a comprehensive approach to helping at-risk youth by providing support services to those in school so that they stay on track to graduate, and by working with dropouts to equip them with the job and life skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.”
“I strongly support federal investments to education and training that are so necessary to help get Queens residents the skills and investment they need for high-quality, well-paid jobs,” said Assembly Member Moya. “An Urban Jobs Act would ensure that the next generation entering the workforce is not invisible and left behind, ensuring expanded opportunity for these young men and women.”
“We need to invest in our City’s youth, by providing organizations with adequate funding so they can provide training enabling our youth in obtaining the necessary skills needed to get a job,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “Our City’s Youth have been neglected for far too long and the Urban Jobs Act, is a step in the right direction. Investing in our youth works, as I am a clear example and I feel everyone should have the same opportunity that I was afforded. I thank Senator Gillibrand for spearheading this effort through the Urban Jobs Act.”
“We know that the earlier a young person enters the workforce, the greater the earning power they’ll have as adults,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav. “Last week, Mayor Bloomberg announced a comprehensive plan forNew York City’s young men of color. Today, Senator Gillibrand is making a national commitment to job training, education and support services for urban youth. I commend her for investing in our young people because every dollar we put toward youth workforce development is a down payment on our future.”
“The fact that almost 200,000 Latino and African American young adults in NYC are disconnected from school and work represents a huge crisis for our communities and our city,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “Research shows that community-based programs that nurture the leadership of these young people in their communities have the potential to turn their lives around, while teaching them crucial skills needed to succeed in work and school. Our communities cannot afford to sit on the sidelines as our young people fall through the cracks of disillusion and neglect. And that is why we are so excited to work with Senator Gillibrand to make sure that the Urban Jobs Act becomes a reality.”
“Before I came to Make the Road NY, I was one of the many LGBT youth who fall through the cracks, bouncing from school to school without a clear path to achieving my personal goals. But with the support, encouragement, and training that I received at Make the Road NY, I not only got back on the track finish school, attend college, become ready for the workplace,” said Daniel Puerto, 19, from Jackson Heights, Queens. “I have also become a leader in the fight to bring dignity to LGBTQ and immigrant communities. The Urban Jobs Act is going to make sure that thousands of young people like me also have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”
The average unemployment rate for minority youths in urban communities in July was approximately 39% for African Americans and 36% for Hispanics. The city’s African American and Hispanic youths are twice as likely to drop out of school and make up more than 80% of the city’s detention centers. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 percentage points lower than the labor force participation rate for high school graduates.
Lengthy periods of unemployment early in a young person’s work life can have lasting negative effects on future earnings, productivity, and employment opportunities. Developing policies such as those under the Urban Jobs Act would assist youth in obtaining the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market, helping reduce youth unemployment and strengthen the economy.
The Urban Jobs Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received a grant would provide a comprehensive set of services that includes: Case management services to help participants effectively utilize the services offered by the program; educational programming, including skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, General Education Development (GED) credential preparation, and post-secondary education; employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, placement in community service opportunities, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development; and support services, including health and nutrition referral, housing assistance, training in interpersonal and basic living skills, transportation, child care, clothing, and other assistance as needed.
The Urban Jobs Act would also direct the Secretary of Labor to establish a National Jobs Council Advisory Committee to analyze and advise the implementation of the Urban Jobs Program, and have successful applicants establish local jobs council advisory committees to aid in establishing community support for local implementation of the program.
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