Mayor calls on local leaders to invest in new SummerWorks initiative for at-risk youth

June 8, 2020

In the wake of protests in support of social justice and racial equity, Mayor Greg Fischer is challenging Louisville’s business and philanthropy community “to lead as a force for justice.”

“To address these complex issues, we need our corporations to invest more in our community,” the Mayor said, citing as an example, Humana’s $11.5 million commitment this week to rebuilding, relief, equity, workforce development, and inclusion efforts in Louisville. The grants include $6.5 million to complete the Louisville Urban League’s Sports and Learning Complex, for which Metro Government is a major funder.

“Today, I am making a specific ask of our business and philanthropy community: Let’s make this the summer of opportunity for our most at-risk young people,” the Mayor said. “One of the difficult side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a decrease in businesses hiring SummerWorks youth, so Louisville Metro Government is working to employ them in a public works project, or studying in a tech training program. We need our business and philanthropy community to help us fund this work.”

The Mayor noted that the protests that have filled the streets in Louisville and 150 cities across America “speaks to the core challenge facing us all: Addressing the racism and inequity built into the foundation of the American system.” And that involves transformation “in our economy, schools, courts, health services, law enforcement and government,” he said.

“So, if you’re watching what is unfolding in our streets and wondering how you can help – this is one way you can help,” the Mayor said. “We created SummerWorks to provide ways to create more opportunities for hardworking, ambitious young people from every neighborhood and every background – and it works.”

A study of SummerWorks’ effectiveness as measured by the Kentucky Center for Statistics, a division of state government, verified that SummerWorks participants are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to enroll and stay enrolled in post-secondary institutions, and more likely to be employed and stay employed than non-participants.

“SummerWorks is an investment that pays off for our workforce, for our businesses, for our economy and for our future,” Mayor Fischer said. “Please help us make it work. “

KentuckianaWorks, the Louisville Region’s Workforce Development Board, will lead the organization of these efforts, in partnership with Louisville Metro Government.

“We know that a quality summer job experience can have a transformative impact on a young person’s life,” said Michael Gritton, Executive Director of KentuckianaWorks. “We also know that it’s harder for some young people to access good job opportunities because they may be living in poverty or just not have the family connections that others do. SummerWorks helps level the playing field. The more we invest in programs like this, the more equitable and fair our community will be.”

Those interested in participating are encouraged to go to https://www.summerworks.org/partners to sign on.