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For Good

Cincinnati Youth 2 Work recruits local teens

More than 600 local teens have been recruited and employed in various organizations throughout the city as part of the Youth 2 Work (Y2WK) program. Y2WK provides City departments and the local business community with an ongoing talent pool and improves workforce resources in our region.  

The program, which runs from June through August, employs youths between the ages of 14 and 18 (and up to 21) in part-time and full-time jobs for eight weeks throughout the summer. 

Seven partners in the area provide opportunities for participants to gain job experience as well as a paycheck. The paid positions start out at $7.85/hour and fall in a variety of roles, ranging from lifeguarding to lawn service.  

The program identifies and works with children who need jobs the most, based on income requirements. Most applicants come from situations where their families are asset poor. Nearly half of them are at the lowest level of poverty, with a total family income of $21,000 or less, says Yvette Simpson, Cincinnati City councilmember.

“It breaks your heart when you hear a 15-year-old say he is the only one in his family who is working,” Simpson says. “But what we do is meaningful. We’re watching these kids blossom, grow up and out of those situations.” 

The program doesn’t just provide a paycheck. Teens also receive training in financial literacy and college preparation. In addition to life skills training, Y2WK teaches teens about needs versus wants and how to save an emergency fund by encouraging them to sign a savings pledge.

“These kids have critical needs. They start to understand that if you want to eat, you work,” Simpson says. “And they feel the pride of when you work, you get paid.”

Graduation and an annual celebration of this summer’s program will take place July 24. 

Read more articles by Jayna Morris.

Jayna Morris is a contributing writer and editor for Soapbox. Learn more about her at www.jaynabarker.weebly.com.
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