Mayor Fischer highlights resilience and success of SummerWorks during uniquely challenging conditions

September 11, 2020

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today joined SummerWorks staff and youth participants at Metro Hall to highlight the 2020 season, which saw more than 3,000 young people employed despite difficult economic conditions. More than 1,000 young people were directly placed in work experiences by SummerWorks staff.

“Earlier this spring, we didn’t even know if we’d be having SummerWorks this year. Many other cities cancelled their summer jobs programs for youth. But I am happy to report that, with the help of our philanthropic and business communities, we were able to increase the number of remote and outdoor work opportunities and have a very safe and very successful season,” Mayor Fischer said.

In June, the Mayor announced that SummerWorks had received an influx of $1.4 million from the One Louisville: COVID-19 Response Fund, the James Graham Brown Foundation, and the Gheens Foundation. These additional funds allowed the program to effectively double the number of planned subsidized job opportunities for young people at nonprofits and public agencies including Bernheim Forest, the Louisville Zoo, McAtee Community Kitchen, AMPED, Dare to Care and others.

SummerWorks also funded two new tech initiatives, the SummerWorks Tech Academy and TECC Boss, which focused on serving young people who are members of underrepresented groups and those who live in low-income ZIP codes. Through the SummerWorks Tech Academy, 331 youth collectively earned nearly $250,000 by completing online courses in areas like graphic design, software programming, business applications, and other tech-related subjects. 51% of participants were Black and 56% were female.

“SummerWorks helped me obtain tech skills that I’m going to need in school and in my future career,” said La’Daysha Wade, who is a freshman at the University of Louisville majoring in computer engineering. La’Daysha was a participant and team leader in TECC Boss, in which forty young people designed and built mobile apps that would address community needs.

Although overall private sector hiring was down from a program record high last year, long-standing SummerWorks Champion Employers such as Humana, GE Appliances, Kentucky Kingdom, UPS, Thorntons and Kroger continued to work with SummerWorks to hire youth this season. In total, 80 organizations hired SummerWorks youth in 2020.

“Our priority was finding creative ways to make sure the youth who were most in need of a way to make money this summer had that opportunity,” said Chris Locke, the program director for SummerWorks. “The success we had is a testament to the commitment of our staff and our strong network of partners, employers, and funders.”

JPMorgan Chase has been one of the largest private funders for SummerWorks in recent years.

“Cities across the country, including Louisville, are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially underrepresented communities and young people,” said Paul Costel, Kentucky Region Manager for Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase. “Young people depend on summer jobs not only to provide critical income, but to learn the skills and experience needed to prepare them for the future. JPMorgan Chase is thrilled to support KentuckianaWorks in their efforts to ensure young people have access to work-based learning experiences.”

SummerWorks is funded through a mix of public funds and private donations (private employers pay the salaries of their own SummerWorks youth). The Louisville Metro Council approved $500,000 in funding for SummerWorks this season. In addition to the funders already named, private donors include the Diaz Family Foundation, David and Betty Jones, the Hearst Foundation, David Jones Jr. and Mary Gwen Wheeler, Microsoft’s Future of Work Initiative, Henry Heuser, Greg Fischer, Metro United Way, the Community Foundation of Louisville, Verizon, PNC, Frank Harshaw, LG&E, the Cameron Foundation, Jean Elizabeth Tucker, Arthur M. Walter Bridge Builders, and Barbara Howell.

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. To learn more about SummerWorks and how to get involved, either as a participant, employer, or supporter, visit www.summerworks.org.