What did you do during your summer vacation? For many teenagers, the answer to that all too often does not include a job.
Despite growth in the overall job market, one out of every seven young people is not in school or working. In Georgia, the teen jobless rate is 32 percent, according to Employment Policies Institute figures − the third worst rate in the country.
That’s one reason Bank of America launched its Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI) in a partnership with Mayor Kasim Reed and other mayors around the U.S. The program provides at-risk teens with job opportunities at local nonprofits and businesses during the summer.
The partnership is now in its second year, with more than 1,050 teens placed in paid jobs in 2013. SYEI provides students with vital workforce development opportunities during a time when U.S. teen unemployment remains the highest of any working group at 24.1 percent.
In Atlanta, 50 young people have been hired to work in nonprofits around the city through the $100,000 grant to the mayor’s office.
In addition, Bank of America has partnered with nonprofit organizations in 13 cities across the country to support the 2013 Consumer Summer Intern Program. This initiative provides more than 130 high school seniors − 12 of whom are in Atlanta − an opportunity to gain valuable work experience in a professional environment while educating customers on financial wellness activities and convenient banking options.
Teens continue to have the highest unemployment rate of any working group. Through SYEI and the internships, students are receiving more than just a paycheck. They are getting skills that translate into better-paying jobs in the future.
Research indicates that teens who are gainfully employed have lower dropout rates, are more likely to continue their education toward long-term career goals and ultimately show an increase in lifetime earning potential. Additionally, especially for immigrants and low-income families, additional income from a young person’s job is often necessary for a family to meet its basic needs.
Local nonprofits will also benefit from the summer teen jobs initiative. The 2013 Nonprofit Finance Fund State of the Nonprofit Sector survey reports that 85 percent of nonprofits expect an increase in demand for services this year, while funding resources remain tight. The extra capacity provided by the students will help nonprofits meet this increased demand.
So, what did you do during your summer vacation?
“I had a job” is the answer we all want to hear.
Geri Thomas is Georgia market president of Bank of America.