As part of a comprehensive effort to help provide every child with a path to economic independence as an adult, Gov. Jay Nixon today announced an initiative to connect 2,000 young people from low-income families in the St. Louis region with summer jobs in 2015. The summer jobs program will be led by Senator Maida Coleman, Director of the Missouri Office of Community Engagement, in partnership with local workforce investment boards.
The Governor made today’s announcement during a visit to the MET Center in St. Louis County, which provides comprehensive job training, placement, assessment, career development services for the unemployed and underemployed in the St. Louis region.
“Your first job is where you learn the basic, foundational skills and values that you draw on throughout your career – like teamwork, timeliness, preparation, taking the initiative, and going the extra mile to get the job done right,” Gov. Nixon said. “But for many young people, especially those in low-income communities, access to these kinds of meaningful job opportunities is limited. Getting kids started out on the right path is vital to keeping them on course to financial independence, a rewarding career, and a successful life.”
The Missouri Office of Community Engagement will work over the coming months with employers that can offer rewarding, high-impact work experiences for young people to help put them on track to success. The Office will partner with local workforce investment boards including the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and the Workforce Investment Board of St. Louis County.
“Much like the Next-Generation Jobs Team we put in place during the height of the recession, we will partner with local workforce investment boards, community organizations, education and the businesses community to match young people with internships and apprenticeships in their fields of interest,” Gov. Nixon said. “It’s a proven model with far-reaching benefits: young people gain the opportunity to learn valuable on-the-job skills, while drawing a paycheck. Businesses gain access to a pipeline of young, energetic and motivated workers to consider for full-time employment. And our state will get the benefit of a stronger, more diverse and inclusive workforce – ready to compete for the best jobs in the global economy.”
Building on the success of programs like the state’s State Park Youth Corps, the summer jobs program will use $5.9 million of existing federal block grants to support wages of $8-an-hour, for up to thirty hours a week, for youth in low-income families during the summer of 2015. The program will also provide resources for supportive employment services such as mentoring and case management.
Funding for the initiative will come primarily from federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds. Due to improving economic conditions and additional job growth, there is extra funding available through the TANF program, which can be used to provide services for young Missourians in families under 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Support for the program will also be provided through federal Workforce Investment Act and Community Development Block Grant funds.
Last month, the Governor signed an executive order creating the Office of Community Engagement responsible for facilitating communication with Missourians and informing policy solutions for the unique challenges facing low-income and minority communities. The Governor appointed former State Senator Maida Coleman as the office’s director.