NEWARK, NJ — Mayor Ras J. Baraka joined multiple local and national philanthropic supporters, representatives of the business and university community, and teen program participants on July 7 to launch the 2021 Newark Summer Youth Employment Program. Newark SYEP is a six-week initiative that will employ more than 3,000 Newarkers ages 14 to 24 who are seeking summer learning and employment experiences that will lead them to their future careers. The program’s multifaceted approach helps participants identify their strengths and assets, learn about different career pathways, make informed and personalized decisions on their road to success in the 21st-century workforce, and learn financial skills.
Youth in the 2021 program will receive an experience that includes webinars, remote work experiences and virtual coaching with some in-person presentations and learning opportunities.
“When I took office, we set a goal in Newark to grow both the scale and the quality of the Summer Youth Employment Program because I recognize the unique opportunity it brings to our youth. It is now a model public-private partnership, and a particularly important resource this summer,” Mayor Ras Baraka said. “As a lifelong educator, I know the amazing things that can happen when we ground ourselves in the development of our youth. Therefore, it is fitting that they would be a big part in bringing us back together again this summer and leading us forward.”
Newark SYEP serves as a “critical bridge” as the city prepares its youth to return to school full-time in the fall. A growing body of research shows the benefits of youth employment programs in addressing future workforce needs, filling the apparent “skills gap,” increasing higher educational attainment, and health and safety outcomes, all while providing youth and their families with needed income and strengthening Newark’s economy.
Enrolled youth will engage in independent and group projects that help answer complex questions and real-world problems, or receive project-based work assignments. All projects will reinforce critical thinking, collaboration, responsibility, initiative, creativity, problem solving, responsibility and communication. Participants will develop deep content knowledge of a specific workplace skill and/or enhance their understanding of careers and demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product/presentation for employers, partners and peers.
Focus industries this year include: arts; early childhood development; education; entrepreneurship; environment; information technology; marketing; media; music; social justice, advocacy and activism; and STEM. The program’s curriculum includes mental health and wellness topics to help youth cope with the current pandemic, and set healthy habits for their continued well-being and an overall better quality of life moving forward. It is designed to equip them with practical knowledge and tools, and to measure their yearly progress as they develop hard and soft skills needed to create real pathways toward thriving careers and economic independence.
In addition to the educational component of the program, the Newark SYEP team built partnerships to offer wraparound resources directly to families and ensure that youth have the technology and nutrition necessary to be successful.