Mayor Fischer celebrates a safe and successful season of SummerWorks
Mayor Greg Fischer today joined community leaders as well as SummerWorks staff and youth participants at the Food Literacy Project’s Iroquois Urban Farm to celebrate a successful 2021 season, which saw more than 3,000 young people employed amidst the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of those young people, 586 were directly placed into work experiences by SummerWorks staff.
“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, SummerWorks continues to thrive thanks to the support of employers, funders, and partners throughout the city,” said Mayor Fischer. “This program is making a lasting difference in the lives of our next generation of leaders and innovators by connecting them to quality work experiences.”
The Mayor also reported that private sector engagement in the program bounced back significantly after taking a dip last summer due to COVID-19. In 2021, 141 organizations hired SummerWorks youth, including 105 private companies and 36 nonprofit or public agencies. In addition, JCPS expanded its partnership with SummerWorks by hiring nearly 60 youth to work at its Backpack League camps across the city.
“SummerWorks has given our students more than just a paycheck. It’s also provided the opportunity for teens to explore careers that interest them, gain real-world job experience, and develop professional networks and contacts,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, Superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools. “I’m especially proud that this year we were able to significantly expand our partnership with SummerWorks by hiring 58 youth to work at Summer Backpack League sites, creating a framework of JCPS students helping JCPS students.”
More than 700 participants completed soft skills training through the program’s new online platform. The program also expanded some of its unique work-and-learn experiences, including TECC Boss and the Louisville Science Pathways, which together helped 80 young people get hands-on STEM experience building mobile apps and doing scientific research.
“This has been an experience I’ll remember my whole life,” said Aicha Ndiaye, a student at Central High School who spent her summer in the Louisville Science Pathways, a collaboration between SummerWorks and the University of Louisville that gives high school students the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists in their labs. “Working in a spinal cord lab gave me an interest in neuroscience and I’m now planning to pursue a career as a surgeon.”
SummerWorks is funded through a mix of public funds and private donations (private employers pay the salaries of their own SummerWorks youth). The city budget, approved by Louisville Metro Council and signed by Mayor Fischer, appropriated $500,000 in funding for SummerWorks this season. JPMorgan Chase has been another of the program’s largest funders in recent years.
“Between persistent racial injustice, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting economic downturn, it’s been a challenging time for families across the country,” said Duffy Baker, Louisville Market Executive for Middle Market Banking and Specialized Industries at JPMorgan Chase. “And especially in under-resourced communities, young people are being hit particularly hard. That’s why JPMorgan Chase is working in Louisville to address this problem by identifying innovative strategies for reconnecting young people to work-based learning experiences.”
As part of JPMorgan Chase’s $350 million New Skills at Work program, in 2017, the firm committed $17 million to support summer youth employment efforts. Over the past seven years, this initiative has helped more than 150,000 people across 37 countries develop in-demand skills for jobs in growing industries. The firm has committed nearly $800,000 to these efforts in Louisville.
Other key funders of SummerWorks include the James Graham Brown Foundation, the Diaz Family Foundation, Mary Gwen Wheeler and David Jones Jr., the Gingko Foundation, Henry Heuser, and the Cralle Foundation.
SummerWorks, which is operated by KentuckianaWorks in partnership with YouthBuild Louisville, was founded by Mayor Fischer in 2011 with the goal of offering valuable summer job experiences to Louisville youth, especially those who are experiencing poverty or face other barriers. Over its 11 seasons, SummerWorks has directly placed more than 7,300 young adults 16-21 in jobs and more than 39,000 youth have been employed by its partner employers.
To learn more about SummerWorks and how to get involved, either as a participant, employer, or supporter, visit www.summerworks.org.