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Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito Announce Youth Employment Task Force

September 29, 2016

NEW YORK—Following this year’s increase in funding for youth workforce initiatives and a record-breaking year for the City’s Summer Youth Employment program, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today announced the formation of the City’s Youth Employment Task Force to inform future investments and assess the best areas for growth and improvement in youth workforce programming. The task force, chaired by Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery and City Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, will hold its first meeting today. Members include senior Administration officials and City Council members, as well as stakeholders from philanthropy, business, academia, advocacy and youth development.

“We know that early exposure to job opportunities can truly shape the trajectory of a young person’s career. For over 50 years, the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program has helped offer the kind of real world training and support necessary to prepare the city’s youth for the jobs of tomorrow. And now we’ve made even greater investments in youth employment programs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Youth Employment Task Force will ensure we are upholding the strongest program quality so we can make a difference in the lives of more young people across the five boroughs.”

“Beginning work experience as a youth is an invaluable asset when considering how to come out ahead during later searches for full-time employment,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The City Council is proud to have funded more than $85 million toward the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and Work, Learn, Grow (WLG) in its FY 2017 budget, ensuring that thousands of young people around New York City will continue to gain valuable work experience. The oversight of the Youth Employment Taskforce is the next step in evolving our youth employment programs to best serve the youth of the five boroughs, and I look forward to the results that will come from the leadership of Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and those of us at the council who have ensured that NYC youth remain a top priority.”

This year, an unprecedented 60,000 young people participated in the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) – the nation’s largest summer youth jobs initiative – and the City and Council supported SYEP with a record $72.4 million in funding.

The Youth Employment Task Force will convene four times before the end of the year with the goal of developing recommendations for the City’s youth workforce programs and assess areas of potential investment and growth. Specifically, the task force is charged with:

  • Defining the role of the Summer Youth Employment Program and Work Learn Grow in preparing NYC youth for success in school and career.
  • Developing recommendations for improving both the Summer Youth Employment Program and Work Learn Grow program models.
  • Highlighting the system-building efforts necessary to implement these changes and sustain successful programs.


“The Summer Youth Employment Program has provided an invaluable enrichment experience to youth since the early sixties, helping to nurture some of the very City leaders who I’m proud to call my colleagues today. The goal of this task force is to build on those successes and create the next generation of this program,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “I am confident that this is the right group of experts to strengthen this program so that even more youth can reap the benefits of early experience in the workplace.”

"The Council made youth development a priority during this year's budget process, and we are proud of the significant investments the City is making in summer internship and job training programs. Yet we must strive for more – which is why I am pleased to Chair this task force. I look forward to working with the diverse members to develop recommendations which will expand and strengthen programs like SYEP. In New York City, all young ‎people should have the opportunity to gain real workplace experience,” said Council Finance Chair and co-Chair of the Youth Employment Task Force Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

In addition to co-Chairs Deputy Mayor Buery and Council Finance Chair Ferreras-Copeland, members of the Youth Employment Task Force include:

  • Bill Chong, Commissioner, Department of Youth and Community Development
  • Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships.
  • Mathieu Eugene, Council Member
  • Steven Matteo, Council Member
  • David Nocenti, Executive Director, Union Settlement
  • Jennifer March, Executive Director, Citizen’s Committee for Children
  • Lucy Friedman, President, ExpandED Schools
  • Kathy Wylde, President, CEO, Partnership for NYC
  • Sharon Sewell-Fairman, Executive Director, Workforce Professionals Institute
  • Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses
  • David Jones, President, Chief Executive Officer, Community Service Society
  • Lou Miceli, Executive Director, JobsFirstNYC
  • Emary Aronson, Managing Director, Education and Relief Fund, Robin Hood Foundation
  • Amy Ellen Schwartz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Chair in Public Affairs and Professor of Economics, Public Administration, and International Affairs, Syracuse University, the Maxwell School
  • David Barth, Director of Youth, Opportunity and Learning, Ford Foundation
  • Cidra Sebastian, Associate Executive Director, The Brotherhood and Sister Sol
  • William Wingate, Respite Care Worker, Center for Human Development & Family Services
  • Laurie Dien, Vice President of Programs, The Pinkerton Foundation


“The Summer Youth Employment Program gave me my first job, so I couldn’t be more thrilled that the summer of 2016 was the most successful in SYEP’s 53-year history,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong. “This Administration has made an unprecedented commitment to our young people, and I look forward to working with Deputy Mayor Buery, Council Member Ferreras-Copeland, and my fellow task force members to make the City’s youth workforce programs even stronger.”

"Tens of thousands of young New Yorkers each year have the opportunity to gain priceless paid work experience and exposure to potential career paths through the Summer Youth Employment Program and Work, Learn & Grow," said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. "I’m excited to join a group of thought leaders on the Task Force working to ensure that these programs help prepare young New Yorkers for future career success, and I applaud the commitment of the Mayor and City Council to their continued improvement."

Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo said, "The City's youth employment programs are an important investment in the future of this city. If they are to be successful, then we must ensure that they provide not just an opportunity to earn extra money over the summer, but also the skills, knowledge and habits that will help prepare young men and women for success in the workplace."

Council Member Mathieu Eugene said, “It is imperative that we continue to find ways to improve youth workforce programming in New York City. While there are more young people participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program than ever before, we must remain resolute in our efforts to build upon recent successes and develop even more strategies to maximize our youth’s ability to thrive academically and in the job market following graduation. I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for creating the Youth Employment Task Force and look forward to working with them to further strengthen programs that create jobs for young people in our great city.”

Started in 1963, SYEP provides New York City young people between the ages of 14 and 24 with up to six weeks of entry-level experience at worksites in all five boroughs. SYEP offers workshops on job readiness, career exploration and financial literacy, and opportunities to continue education and social growth. Specialized programming for disabled, foster care, runaway/homeless and court-involved young people is also available. Participants are selected by lottery for the program. Ladders for Leaders, a component of SYEP, is a professional employer-paid internship program for high school and college students.

SYEP is part of a larger citywide strategy to expand employment services for young New Yorkers. In May 2015, Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City launched the NYC Center for Youth Employment, a public-private initiative with the specific goal of supporting 100,000 unique work-related experiences each year, including high-quality summer jobs, career exposure, skills-building, and supportive mentorships, by 2020.

DYCD also funds employment programs through In-School Youth (ISY); Out-of-School Youth (OSY); Opportunity Youth: Supported Work Experience; and the Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP). More information can be found on the DYCD website.

Work, Learn & Grow, a Council-funded initiative, provides participants in SYEP and ISY who are between the ages of 14 and 24 and currently in school with career-readiness training and paid employment opportunities for up to 25 weeks from October through April.

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