Fischer asks local businesses to ante-up for SummerWorks

With unemployment at 8.5 percent across the U.S., topping 9 percent here in the Commonwealth, making sure high-schoolers have a chance to make some cash scooping ice cream or mowing the grass this summer is not at the top of the Fed’s to-do list. For the second year since 2010, prospects are looking grim for that sweet little $2 million Washington used to send Louisville’s teens to score summer gigs.

And while you may think the Fed has bigger fish to fry, teen unemployment during the dog days can put a real slump in the local economy. According to John Yarmuth, as quoted by the Courier Journal, the cash kids make during the summer months is “money that gets spent….It goes right into the economy.” Teen unemployment is at a record 25 percent in Louisville—and with still no Kentucky Kingdom, there’s about 1,000 less opportunities for teens to supplement their allowances by tearing tickets and serving slushies.

Our city, left to its own devices, has created SummerWorks 2012. This program, which Mayor Fischer created last year, not only encourages businesses and non-profits to hire teens, but also solicits donations from philanthropists to fund summer jobs that would otherwise not be options for teens. According to Fischer, $2,500 is what it takes to make one summer job happen.

Last year’s program raised $400,000 from the community, plus $100,000 from Louisville-Metro’s own pocketbook and another $16,500 from Metro Council Neighborhood Development funds. Fischer says he wants to raise even more this year. “We want SummerWorks2012 to employ more young people and involve more local employers – so I’m challenging the business community to increase its financial support,” Fischer said. “Support for this program not only helps a young person, it helps strengthen our future workforce and economy.”

SummerWorks 2011 participants

Teens interested in deepening their pockets this summer can visit the Youth Opportunity Showcase on February 18th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kentucky International Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 1 A/B, 221 S. Fourth St. The Showcase will feature employers and representatives from local colleges and universities, as well as career-planning advice and training.