With teen violence always a concern in Boston neighborhoods, programs like East Boston APAC’s SummerWorks program have become an oasis for at-risk teens, giving them the opportunity to hold a real job, take home a pay check, receive tutoring and mentoring that boosts achievement in school, and experience an all-important work ethic they may never observe otherwise.
It’s no secret that SummerWorks has kept kids in Eastie off the streets and away from drugs and gangs and the other temptations the city offers during the long hot summer.
This week, APAC announced they will be able to put at least 50 more kids to work this summer thanks to a combination of state funding and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds (ARRA) that were reserved for this summer.
Governor Deval Patrick announced he committed $9.1 million to provide jobs for thousands of at-risk young people on Monday through this duel funding structure.
“Each year we put 100 kids to work,” said APAC Director Amy Lima. “Kids filled out applications back in February and now we’ll be able to hire an additional 50 kids from that pile of applications.”
Lima said this will most likely be APAC’s biggest SummerWorks program since the 1970s.
“Everyone’s nervous about what’s going on in the neighborhoods, and these kids are absolutely in need of adult support,” said Lima. “We have the infrastructure in place to keep these kids working and we have this cadre of community organizations who love to go to work with our kids. Ask any city parent whether they would rather see their kid working or sitting around, and I think you could predict what the answer would be.”
Lima went on to say that when kids have somewhere to go it helps keep them out of trouble and keeping that philosophy in mind Lima said any extra funding is always welcomed.
“Many of these teens live in public housing developments, homeless shelters, and households shattered by poverty, violence, depression and abusive situations,” said Lima. “All live below the federal poverty level for a family of four but are learning, at an early age, how to succeed.”
State funding will provide jobs for more than 3,810 youth in 25 communities across Massachusetts. In addition, the Patrick-Murray Administration will provide $1.8 million in ARRA funding to support youth activities for low-income youth this summer, resulting in an additional 916 summer jobs this year. Between both programs, YouthWorks and ARRA, 4,726 young people will be put to work this summer.
“Jobs foster the kinds of ethics and skills young people need to succeed as adults,” said Patrick. “We are committed to helping young people in Massachusetts at school, on the job, and in our communities. The YouthWorks program is one important way we can help.”