Best Investment: Summer Youth Employment
County Partners with Business Leaders To Double Number Of Summer Jobs for 2019
By Raoul Dennis
The county executive has been fired up about making a more comprehensive investment in county youth and it all started as she was serving as state’s attorney.
“Even when I was at the state’s attorney office, we recognized that we had 400 young people that were employed by Prince George’s County. But to tell you the truth, we were concerned,” said County Executive Angela Alsobrooks at the Prince George’s County Summer Youth Enrichment Program (SYEP) breakfast Jan 30. “[I would be] sitting in the courthouse, watching our young people cycle in and out of the courthouse [being processed] and hearing the question over and over again: what can we do to prevent our kids from ever reaching us? The answer was very clear: It depends on the investment we are willing to make in them.”
For Alsobrooks, it was the beginning of a crusade-like effort. Teaming with the Baker Administration and the county council, the SYEP program was expanded to 3,000 young people in 2018.
But that’s not enough. Now Alsobrooks wants to push to getting 6,000 kids and young adults employed this summer.
“We can shoot higher,” she said to the room of over 100 business owners. “We all agreed and we went from 400 to 3,000 and this year I believe we can aim even higher and go from 3,000 to 6,000.”
The Alsobrooks Administration, fully invested and now in the driver’s seat, also seeks to expand the SYEP program to ages 14 through 22. The administration is now reaching out to area businesses to enlist their support in getting more youth employed this summer – cultivating a better direction for young residents while creating a stronger future workforce for the county.
Major Riddick, Chief Administrative Officer of the Alsobrooks Administration, wasted no time in recruiting respected leaders to the task.
“Just think back to when you were a teenager and you got your first job and what that meant to you to have a little money in your pocket.” said Thomas H. Graham of T.H. Graham & Associates. The popular former president of PEPCO Region was tapped to aid the SYEP leaders in bringing local businesses to task in increasing the program from 3,000 to 6,000 youth between now and the start of the summer jobs season. “Now, fast forward to when you became a parent and you were encouraging your children to get a job, to start to build that foundation of growth. Lastly, as an employer, it’s important that you have young people in your organization because these are the people you need in your organization in order to be successful.”
Key testimonials were offered by Conrad Samuels, a program manager at PEPCO as well as by former SYEP job holders Ian Spears and Kwasi Fields who shared remarks as youth participants in 2006 and 2016 respectively.
“I am absolutely obsessed with our young people. I make no apologies for it,” said Alsobrooks. “Not only with their safety and well-being but with their futures as well and with how well they are developing and what opportunities we provide for them.”
Employers interested in sponsoring or employing youth through the SYEP can call: Larry Hentz (301) 618-8400