Community Development

Emerging Lessons from Summer Youth Employment in the Age of Covid-19

September 10, 2020  • Forum for Community Solutions

This has been a summer like no other. As the nation and all communities grapple with the impacts of a global pandemic, racial injustice and economic crisis, young people have been at the center of these circumstances: resilient in the face of uncertainty and standing on the front lines for racial justice. Join us to hear from community leaders on what really happened this summer – innovation and challenges to supporting young people in the wake of tragedy.

In communities nationwide, summer youth employment programs (SYEP) play an important role preparing young people for careers and can improve economic, academic and behavioral outcomes for youth and young adults in low-income communities. Yet social distancing requirements due to Covid-19 made operating such programs in a traditional manner this summer impossible.

Join us as we reconvene leaders from five communities from the Opportunity Youth Forum and Communities Collaborating to Reconnect Youth networks who previously shared their innovative and resilient strategies to adapt SYEP despite these challenges at our last webinar on May 28th on this topic.

How have plans played out in implementation during this traumatic summer? What can we learn from summer to support year-round work-based learning and career opportunities for youth and young adults, as well as distanced learning in high school and postsecondary settings? What more is needed to ensure equitable access and outcomes for those populations hardest hit by today’s overlapping crises?

Targeting youth employment training providers, workforce systems leaders, funders, and policymakers, this interactive webinar highlighted specific examples of strategies, tactics and resources and create a space to exchange ideas about how to solve common challenges.

Speakers included the following program staff, youth and young adults:

• Farrah Farnese, Senior Director, External Relations, Philadelphia Youth Network
• Justice Passe, WorkReady Philadelphia
• Shuna Hayward, Vice President of Programs, Connect Detroit
• Taylin Hodges, Grow Detroit Young Talent
• Joe McLaughlin, Director of Research and Strategy, Boston Private Industry Council
• Johnson Le, Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program Boston
• Lukee Forbes, Social Justice Activist, Albany, New York
• Lauri Collier, Director, Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative, Alliance for Children’s Rights

The discussion was moderated by Kisha Bird, Director of Youth Policy, CLASP and Mike Swigert, Senior Program Manager for Youth Employment, Aspen Forum for Community Solutions