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United Way Applauds White House Focus on Employing America’s Youth

Nonprofit’s funding of summer employment for teens aims to bring financial stability to region
Teens in Lynn found work through a United Way/Centerboard program.

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is applauding the White House's announcement of Summer Jobs+. According to the White House, the program is "a new call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012." United Way Worldwide will work with dozens of local chapters, including United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, to host a series of Community Conversations, where local leaders will join with ordinary citizens to map out what they can do to pull together the support needed to create opportunity and pathways for young adults.

"The financial stability of our region's households is not the sole responsibility of parents and guardians," said Michael K. Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. "Through this initiative, the participating teens will learn skills and gain information that is crucial for securing a better future and lifting their communities as a whole."

This past year, United Way funded partner agencies that helped more than 3,300 youth gain work experience through year-round and summer internships and employment. During the summer, United Way provided funding to the Boston Private Industry Council through the State Street Youth Violence Prevention Funders Collaborative to help 22 high risk youth become employed. In Lynn, United Way and Centerboard also founded a program to create summer job opportunities for teens while helping youth and their families create a financially stable future. The initiative employed 32 participants over 6-weeks at 8 local businesses and community-based organizations. Participants received payment for their work as well as weekly job readiness classes, financial education and individualized case management. All services were also open to the families of teen workers.

"Participating teens took the first steps to build a better tomorrow for the Lynn community," Durkin added. "They learned from real world financial scenarios and were provided with practical job preparedness education. Having completed the program, the teens were prepared to overcome financial obstacles throughout their lives. It is our intent to create additional employment opportunities for teens with our corporate partners throughout the region as we answer the call of the White House and the need of our community."

During the summer program the teens and their families also met with a case manager on a regular basis to address any barriers that the family faced. The case management services included how to pay off owed rent, supplement moving costs, utility assistance, paying down debt and improving credit scores.