Students, city leaders call for additional youth employment funding
Students and city leaders say Mayor Bill deBlasio is cutting funding to an essential service, the city's Summer Youth Employment Program.
Organizers say SYEP is the nation's largest youth employment program, yet there were still not enough jobs to go around last year. They say further cuts will lead to even less opportunities.
Kai-Lin Kwek-Rupp, one of the student leaders, is pushing for the city to offer more job opportunities for youth.
"We started this budget at zero. The mayor took all the money away for summer youth employment and youth programming as a whole. So, the council members on the budget negotiating team stepped in and fought to get something," she says. "The reality is so many jobs are online now…that working online and working on zoom is work-based learning and a lot of providers we spoke with got back to us, and a lot of them said absolutely."
Kwek-Rupp says people are ready to work and is calling for an equitable budget in order to help vulnerable youth of color, who she says are often the hardest hit by a lack of funding.
"A lot of providers say they need to host participants…They didn't want to lay off staff and depend on money for being providers to host such important programs. They took away an entire program and gave a fraction of it –that's not investing in youth, that is unacceptable," says Kwek-Rupp.
As News 12 reported, the new budget will apparently restore about 35,000 of the summer youth jobs.
A petition fighting for paid summer jobs for teens and young adults has more than 40,000 signatures.