Mayor says SummerWorks ‘crucial’ to nurturing youth, developing city’s talent pipeline

March 12, 2019

Summer jobs are critical to developing the community’s youth and building a stronger local economy, Mayor Greg Fischer said today in launching the SummerWorks jobs program for 2019.

The program partners with companies and non-profits to provide good summer employment for young people age 16-21.

“Summer jobs are essential building blocks for young people, and SummerWorks is crucial to our city’s economy, by creating a consistent pipeline of future talent,” Mayor Fischer said. “The combination of SummerWorks and the developing Academies of Louisville schools at JCPS will be critical pieces as we work to build the best talent development system in the nation.”

In 2018, SummerWorks staff directly placed more than 1,000 teens and young adults in jobs, and 6,200 youth overall were employed by the program’s partner employers. And already, momentum is building for this summer, with many employers hiring youth through the program for the first time, including BrightSpring Health Services, FFO Homes, Heine Brothers Coffee, Messer Construction, OneWest Louisville and VisionWorks.

Today’s program kickoff was at the Shawnee Boys & Girls Club. Siera Berry, 17, who attends Butler Traditional, worked at the club last summer helping supervise young children. She says the experience convinced her to pursue a teaching career.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do before I started SummerWorks and then when I started working with kids, I realized that I really love this and want to teach them,” Siera said. “I read to the kids, and learned to be patient with them. It was a super experience.”

Mayor Fischer said more youth will be able to discover and pursue careers with the alignment of SummerWorks and the 14 high schools that are part of the JCPS Academies initiative. This summer, about 200 Academy students will be placed in jobs that link to their education in career sectors such as technology, healthcare, manufacturing and business services. The goal is for every student to have had a summer job experience by the time they graduate their Academy school.

“Our students gain unique opportunities through SummerWorks for relevant and hands-on experiences,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, JCPS Superintendent. “These opportunities match instruction taking place in the classroom within our Academies of Louisville structure.”

For many participants, their summer job has led to fulltime employment at companies such as GE Appliances, Humana, Kentucky Kingdom, Norton Healthcare, Thorntons and UPS.

Other businesses that have committed to hiring SummerWorks youth this year include 4th Street Live, GlowTouch Technologies, Hilliard Lyons, Kindred Healthcare, Kroger, Lantech, Louisville Zoo, Omni Hotel, Parallon and Speedway. SummerWorks will also create job experiences this summer that build entrepreneurial skills in young people by providing mini-grants to five organizations: Americana Community Center, Food Literacy Project at Oxmoor Farm, TECH-nique, Inc., YMCA and Youth, Ethics & Skills Center, Inc. The grants will fund work experiences ranging from providing tech skills to young women to developing a summer meals program for lower income children.   

The Mayor launched SummerWorks right after taking office in 2011, in response to the elimination of federal funding for summer jobs. That first year, 200 young people were placed in jobs. The program was recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2014 as one of the nation’s best summer jobs programs for young people.

SummerWorks is overseen by KentuckianaWorks, the workforce development agency for the Louisville area, in partnership with Louisville YouthBuild, which adds expertise in working with at-risk youth and provides mentoring and job-coaching. The goal is to provide even stronger long-term outcomes for young people involved in the program.

The program’s core operating funds are approved by the Louisville Metro Council. Private donations sponsor jobs for youth in greatest need of the opportunity. Those contributors include the James Graham Brown Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Community Foundation of Louisville, V.V. Cooke Foundation, Diaz Family Foundation, Henry Heuser, LG&E, Harshaw Trane, Mary Gwen Wheeler and David Jones, Jr. and other organizations and individuals.

Employers and youth can sign up for the program at www.summerworks.org.