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Baltimore expects another record year for youth jobs

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave an update on funding for Baltimore's summer hiring initiatives at Union Memorial Hospital with heads of contributing institutions. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz).

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave an update on funding for Baltimore’s summer hiring initiatives at Union Memorial Hospital with heads of contributing institutions. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz).

A city program that provides summer jobs for Baltimore youth is expecting record participation levels for the second year in a row, officials announced Monday.

About 8,000 young people took part last year in the YouthWorks program, which connects them with part-time jobs either with city agencies or nonprofits and private businesses. That was about 3,000 more than took part in the program in prior years.

This year, 9,400 young people have completed applications, and officials want Baltimore’s business community to ensure each one has a place to work this summer, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a press conference at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.

“I’m here today to plead for your help again,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Our need this year is greater.”

So far, 80 businesses have agreed to take young people on as summer employees; others have provided funds to support participants as they do other work, such as community projects led by nonprofits, officials said.

YouthWorks participants typically work about 25 hours per week for five weeks and are paid at least minimum wage.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has already offered a $500,000 contribution to support this year’s program, plus another $500,000 in dollar-for-dollar matching funds to encourage additional support from the business community. That match was met in just two weeks, Rawlings-Blake said.

Foundation President Patrick McCarthy announced Monday the organization would offer an additional $250,000 in matching funds, this time providing one dollar for every two that’s contributed by the private sector.

Patrick McCarthy, President and CEO of The Anne E. Casey Foundation, speaking at  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s  update on funding for Baltimore's summer hiring initiatives at Union Memorial Hospital. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz).

Patrick McCarthy, President and CEO of The Anne E. Casey Foundation, speaking at Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s update on funding for Baltimore’s summer hiring initiatives at Union Memorial Hospital. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz).

“Last year, we all had to do some serious reflection and soul-searching about our responsibility to our communities, and especially to our young people,” McCarthy said, adding that when the foundation reached out to young people in the city and asked what they needed, the answer was often the same.

“I want a job. I want to work. I want dignity. I want an opportunity to show what I can do,” McCarthy said.

The money the foundation has promised so far — including the matching funds pledge — will provide summer jobs for 1,000 young people who would otherwise have no place to work, said Jason Perkins-Cohen, director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development.

Once the additional matching funds are obtained, the city will be able to support and place about 7,000 young people — leaving 2,400 that still need a place to work, Perkins-Cohen said.

“We are well ahead of where we were last year,” Perkins-Cohen said. “[But] we have a ways to go.”

The city will continue trying to find work and funding for the remaining applicants “as long as there’s placements available and as long as we have dollars to share,” he said.

MedStar Health employed nearly 40 YouthWorks participants last year at several locations and expects to hire 50 this summer, said Laura O’Donnell, MedStar’s regional vice president for human resources.

The Johns Hopkins institutions, including both the university and the health system, plan to hire 300 YouthWorks participants, the same number as last year, but will extend their program from six weeks to eight, said Yariela Kerr-Donovan, director of strategic workforce planning and development with Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Hopkins also provides professional development training for its hires, including college and career fairs and a class in Microsoft Office skills to increase computer literacy, Kerr-Donovan said.

“We’re trying to address that summer loss that sometimes takes place, trying to make sure they’re going back to school with tangible skills,” she said.