Jules Guelton says he carefully chose his outfit this morning for his first day of work. The 17-year-old high school senior joined thousands of other high school and college students participating in Newark’s Summer Youth Employment Program.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka joined the new hires at Essex County College for orientation, where students who were chosen from a lottery patiently waited to receive their work assignments. Youth employment tripled from 1,000 participants in 2014, when the program started, to 3,000 participants this year.
The summer program is being touted as a national model, after it was highlighted nationally by President Barack Obama for its membership in the National Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s Summer Jobs Connect. The public/private partnership is unique because it combines financial literacy, exposure to college campuses and the workplace, and school enrichment programs.
Once students are accepted into the employment program, they choose their top three assignments from 600 different employers. The program is funded by a wide range of donors from the public, private, educational, and nonprofit sectors. In total, program managers say the program received about $3 million.
The mayor says his goal is to increase funding so that he can expand the program to 5,000 participants next year.