Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer joined Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio and SummerWorks participants, employers, and supporters at Story Louisville today to kick-off the 2022 SummerWorks season and to celebrate the program’s impact over its 12 years.
Mayor Fischer founded SummerWorks at the start of his first term after federal funding to support summer jobs programs for low-income youth ended, saying then: “We simply could not let down our youth,” many of whom were using summer paychecks to help supplement their families’ income.
Since 2011, SummerWorks has directly placed more than 8,000 young adults 16-21 in quality jobs and more than 40,000 have been hired by the program’s Champion Employers.
“And from day one, SummerWorks has prioritized finding opportunities for the young adults in our community who need them the most,” the Mayor said. “We can’t afford to allow barriers like poverty or discrimination hold back the promise of our next generation of leaders and innovators.”
Mayor Fischer referenced a 2019 study by the Kentucky Center for Statistics showing SummerWorks youth are more likely to go to college and find a job after participating in the program. He also noted that SummerWorks was recently identified as a national model for youth job programs by the think tank Results for America, which cited the program’s growth, its resilience during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and Louisville’s strong youth employment rate, among other points.
Today’s event took place at Story Louisville, home of a SummerWorks program called TECC Boss, managed by the local nonprofit TECH-nique and the Microsoft Future of Work initiative, that is focused on helping underrepresented minorities, especially young women of color, get experience in technology entrepreneurship. Around 50 youth are participating in TECC Boss this season.
“TECC Boss and SummerWorks have helped me to reimagine how technology can contribute to addressing needs in my community,” said Aysia Gilbert, a former program participant who is now a TECC Boss program manager. “I now have a sense of belonging in the field of technology that I did not have before.”
Mayor Fischer credited the large number of SummerWorks employers, both private sector and nonprofit organizations, for helping make the program such a success over the past 12 years, including UPS, Kindred Healthcare, Kentucky Kingdom, Kroger, Thorntons and Norton Healthcare.
Allison Martin spoke on behalf of GE Appliances, A Haier Company, one of the program’s top Champion Employers.
“At GE Appliances, we believe in the power of our community, and we appreciate the opportunity to participate in SummerWorks since the very beginning,” said Martin, the company’s senior director of Corporate Citizenship. “Thanks to the business community coming together and supporting this initiative, we’ve been able to employ thousands of Louisville teens and create paths for future employment. We’re thrilled to have many SummerWorks graduates now working full-time at GEA.”
SummerWorks has also expanded its partnerships with JCPS, Greater Louisville, Inc., and the University of Louisville in recent years.
“We’re proud of JCPS’ commitment to SummerWorks and, in return, the program’s commitment to Louisville youth,” said Superintendent Pollio. “Providing solid paying summer jobs to hundreds of our students and allowing them, in many cases, to utilize the skills they’ve learned through our Academies of Louisville program, is creating a pipeline of talent that our community desperately needs.”
The program’s core operating funds come from Louisville Metro Government, approved by the Louisville Metro Council. Private donations sponsor jobs for youth in greatest need of the opportunity, including those from the James Graham Brown Foundation, the Diaz Family Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, the Jewish Heritage Fund, the Gingko Foundation, Henry Heuser, Jr., Mary Gwen Wheeler and David Jones Jr., the Cralle Foundation and others.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing racial and economic crises have had a disproportionate impact on young people, especially for those in under-resourced communities who have had to juggle supporting their families and preparing for their own futures,” said Paul Costel, Region Manager for JPMorgan Chase in Kentucky. “Early employment opportunities for young people are incredibly valuable and often provide the necessary skills, network and experience they need for future career success and economic mobility. Working closely with local government, employers and community partners, we can help ensure that more young people are exposed to these critical learning experiences and can benefit from an inclusive economy for a brighter future.”
All Louisville youth who are between the ages of 16-21 (as of June 1) are eligible to enroll in SummerWorks. Youth applicants who face barriers and come from disadvantaged backgrounds are prioritized in the job matching process. SummerWorks is also continuing to sponsor jobs and work-learn experiences at nonprofits and agencies across the community that share the program’s commitment to advancing equity. Once youth register online, they can create or upload a resume, get soft skills training, and apply for job opportunities geared toward them.
SummerWorks is operated by YouthBuild Louisville in partnership with KentuckianaWorks, the Louisville Region’s Workforce Development Board. To learn more about SummerWorks and how to get involved as a participant, employer, or supporter, visit www.summerworks.org.