The Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved more than $1.5 million to fund summer employment and academic programs for 1,300 teenagers.
The Pima County One Stop Career Center’s Summer Youth Program places young people in minimum wage summer jobs in a variety of areas, including clerical and retail work.
“For many youth participants, it will be the first paycheck they will have ever earned,” said Dana Katbah, the program’s manager. “It also keeps young people busy during the summer and teaches them valuable workplace skills. They can add it to their resume and it really is sort of an impressive thing for their next employer.”
More than 4,000 people applied for the program this year, she said. Before becoming eligible, applicants must pass a basic education skills test. Those not meeting the minimum requirement may be placed in education programs.
“They would be in a classroom setting,” Katbah said. “They would be brushing up on their basic skills and would still earn a paycheck.”
The 1,300 who will be connected with jobs is a lower number than in past years because of budget cuts, Katbah said.
Altar Valley School District, Catholic Community Services and Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona are among the seven organizations to receive funding from the board to hire youth. All are nonprofit organizations except for the school district.
“I hope that more private sector employers would get involved,” Katbah said. “Even if they were unable to pay the youth the wage, they could maybe pay a portion of it, maybe $1 or $2 an hour, and the county could pay the remainder.”
Mariana Dale is a University of Arizona Intern at Arizona Public Media