Six months after a crowd of staff and interns involved in the City of Houston’s Summer Jobs Program gathered at Moody Park to celebrate the culmination of months of hard work with an end-of-summer graduation ceremony, the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Houston as the National Summer Youth Jobs Challenge Large City award recipient. Mayor Parker received the award on behalf of the City of Houston at the USCM’s 83rd Annual Winter Meeting Plenary Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
The USCM National Summer Youth Jobs Challenge is a program that urges mayors from across the nation to create innovative and long-lasting partnerships with local businesses and organizations with the hopes of ensuring our youth have a meaningful summer job experience.
This past year, the City of Houston launched its program and opened its doors to more than 450 Houston-area youth between 16 and 21 years old. They participated in a unique summer internship opportunity that placed participants in 14 city departments in more than 140 worksites across the city.
The program was initiated by a $1.5 million commitment from City Council to establish a youth summer employment initiative and was administered through a partnership with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Workforce Solutions, SER-Jobs for Progress, Houston Area Urban League, METRO and community volunteers.
To participate in the SJP, Houston area youth had to complete a thorough application and go through a multi-level structured interview process. Once selected, interns were required to complete a 40-hour job readiness training workshop at the George R. Brown Convention Center that covered topics ranging from financial literacy and work etiquette, to the importance of diversity and communication in the workplace. As a result of the program, 130 youth opened new bank accounts.
“SJP provides tremendous potential for our youth and city, and its investment in our future promotes engaged, inspired and empowered young professionals,” said Mayor Parker. “Participants gained valuable knowledge and insight, moral support, contacts, experience and direction, all essential components in their long-term development.”
Interns were assigned based on their interests and proximity to work locations to ensure a more successful experience.
“Working with the Houston Police Department has and will continue to give me the knowledge that I need to pursue my career. It will also help me become more aware of my surroundings and what I need to do to help others,” said Gabriela Quintanilla, an SJP graduate.
This community-based initiative is important because it displays a new standard for creating and maintaining key partnerships in our community to invest in our youth and contributes to the success of our city’s future workforce by exposing youth to real-world work experience.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ National Summer Youth Jobs Challenge: