Summer can be a crucial mass of time for young people searching for work and experiencing extensive days off between educational periods. With limited-to-no work experience, samplings of education, and limited connection to employers, finding employment can be very difficult for many youth.
To combat said challenges, the White House, in partnership with LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with connections to state and local leaders, community-based organizations, private sector leaders, philanthropic leaders, schools and other youth-serving agencies, launched The Summer Opportunity Project at a White House Summer Opportunity workshop and Champions of Change event on Feb. 26.
“This summer opportunity project is essential to long-term global market,” Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, told members of the press during a White House conference call. She added, “We need to provide enough time for teens to prepare for jobs in the workforce post college and high school because when teens lose, we all lose.”
The goal of The Summer Opportunity Project is to close the “opportunity gap.” A report released last summer showing that 46 percent of youth who applied for summer jobs were turned down. The mission is to create a set of business opportunities that enable strong transitions from school year to school year and from high school to college.
“Every member of the job force needs to be able to service everyone. It’s important that our youth maintain professional development, including close attention to our youth living in underserved communities,” said Broderick Johnson, assistant to President Obama and chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.
Research has shown that Black and Hispanic teenage boys lag behind their peers in summer employment and year-round jobs. This employment gap broadens as young men get older, making them the highest percentage of the nearly 7 million youth ages 16-24 disconnected from school and work.
“For a lot of Black and Hispanic males, they are already significantly born below the educational, monetary and work force line. We have to make sure all kids know how much they mean to the country.” Jackson said.
Some key efforts in support of the project will include: a LinkedIn small- and medium-business engagement tool that connects businesses to local and state organizations in 72 cities; The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) Best Practice Network, which is focused on cities, towns and counties providing summer learning, meals and jobs to children and youth qualifying for free and reduced meals; $15 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) helping youth who serve their communities pay for college, and high tech summer camps offering more than 360 paid internships in Charlotte, N.C.
“A poll was done on various members of our youth, asking what they wanted out of the president concerning jobs and most of them said that all they wanted was to work hard and earn money,” said Meg Garlinghouse, head of Linkedin for Good.