Eugene: Expand Summer Youth Employment Program

Council Member Mathieu Eugene.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Brooklyn Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene, chairman of the City Council’s Youth Services Committee, on Wednesday dispatched a letter signed by 40 of his colleagues asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand the funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and to add more job opportunities for disconnected youth.

Eugene, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, said the letter, which has bipartisan support, highlights the need for the expansion of SYEP.

He said the program provided jobs to less than half of the young people who applied last year.

In 2015, more than 130,000 teenagers and young adults sought positions in the program but only about 54,000 individuals received jobs, Eugene said.

“We must do everything possible to make sure all of our young people who want to work are able to do so,” Eugene said. “An investment in our youth is an investment in our city.”

“When our young people are unable to find jobs, they may be forced to pursue other alternative lifestyles in order to make a living,” he added. “By intervening early with positive opportunities, we may be able to change the course of our young people’s futures.”

Last week, Eugene held the Committee on Youth Services Hearing, “Oversight: The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).”

He said he was joined by youth advocates who also shared his vision for the expansion of “this important program.”

As a long-time advocate for SYEP, Eugene said he has continually pushed for the program’s expansion.

In past years, Eugene said there were enrollment slots for only approximately 36,000 young people.

He said because of his effort and collaboration with his colleagues, under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and with the support of Mayor de Blasio, “the program was expanded to include more than 50,000 positions for young people.”

Eugene said he wants SYEP to continue increasing “until every applicant receives a job.”

In addition to the expansion of SYEP, the councilman also supports year-round jobs for the youth, especially disconnected ones.

He said a year-round job program, “Work, Learn, Grown (WLG),” currently offers 6,000 jobs for students only.

Eugene said he wants the program expanded “so that youth who are not enrolled in school would have an equal opportunity to apply for this program.”

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