Jobs program gives teens head start 

Last summer, Terek, an 18-year-old San Francisco native, was hired for his first job through San Francisco Summer Jobs+. Growing up in Bayview-Hunters Point, Terek wasn't sure where to start looking for a summer job after his junior year of high school, but through this initiative, he found the perfect fit at the Exploratorium working with inspiring artists who helped him explore his passion to become an artist. Terek is a great example of how youths learn and advance through a Summer Jobs+ experience.

Summer Jobs+, now in its third year, is a successful partnership between the Department of Children, Youth and their Families, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Unified School District, United Way of the Bay Area, and nonprofit and business partners.

Last year, more than 6,800 San Francisco youths found jobs, received training and had experiences like Terek's. Almost 100 employers such as Starbucks, Old Navy and Zynga; more than 60 nonprofits such as Glide Memorial, the Boys & Girls Club and the Third Street Youth Center; and 55 city agencies came together to provide our city's youths with exciting opportunities that offered valuable experience in office work, the arts, computer science, retail, engineering, landscaping and dozens of other fields.

Nationally, the unemployment rate for youths ages 16-24 is 12.8 percent, more than double the U.S. unemployment rate. And for youths ages 16-19, the rate is even higher at 17.7 percent. As youths in our city face these employment challenges, now is the time to double down on our youth employment efforts.

The Summer Jobs+ program continues to open doors and gives our youths discipline, training, skills and work exposure while helping them experience the connection between education and their future careers. The program specifically focuses on our most vulnerable youths including those in foster care, in the justice system, from low-income communities and those who do not have right-to-work documents.

This year, we are expanding Summer Jobs+ so that a young person in San Francisco can find a job all year round. My goal this year is to place 7,000 youths in paid internships and jobs throughout the year. With this new goal, I am calling on employers, large and small, to participate in Summer Jobs+ and create opportunities to mentor future industry leaders, and to consider giving youths like Terek a chance to succeed in the workplace and in the classroom.

Be our partner and support the Summer Jobs+ program. Together, we will make this the best summer yet for our young people!

For more information, visit sfsummerjobs.org or www.matchbridge.org, or call 311 or 211.

Ed Lee is mayor of San Francisco.

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