By Carrie Henderson
NC State University has played a key role in a program that is bringing summer jobs to more than six hundred young people from Wake and Johnston counties.
The Summer Youth Employment Program was created this spring as part of the national stimulus package to give economic benefits, and valuable work experience, to economically disadvantaged youth age 16-24. The Capital Area Workforce Board moved quickly to find places willing to host and supervise young workers.
Tom White, director of NC State’s Economic Development Partnership, and Roger Shackleford, head of the state’s Division of Workforce Development, saw an opportunity for NC State to reach out to promote the program to the academic community and for young people to get a glimpse of potential career and educational opportunities at a major research university.
"Back in the fall of 2006, recently-installed UNC System President Erskine Bowles delivered a captivating address [on] the efficacy of genuine, bona fide, substantive engagement effectively linking our world-class Universities with our public workforce system. The Summer Youth Employment Program affords us a unique opportunity to respond to that charge,” explains White.
NC State’s participation in the program is consistent with at least two goals of the UNC Tomorrow Commission: boosting engagement in the community and increasing access to universities, particularly for disadvantaged students.
For Christina Lawrence, who was placed with the Kenan Fellows Program for Curriculum and Leadership Development, it’s a good fit: “I was looking for a summer work experience where I could be a part of a team, make a meaningful contribution to the organization and leave with new skills.”
The Summer Youth Employment is working for NC State as well. Valerie Brown-Schild, Ph.D., Director of the Kenan Fellows Program for Curriculum and Leadership Development, affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science, sees that every day: “The Summer Youth Employment Program is truly mutually beneficial. Christina Lawrence, who works with Kenan Fellows Program doing research, is given authentic learning opportunities and we are gaining a valuable new member of our team.”
Along with Kenan Fellows, NC State has placements in the Science House, 4-H Camps, the Shelton Leadership Institute, the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center, the NC Solar Center, and Cooperative Extension among others. Additionally, Cooperative Extension has created dozens of summer positions throughout other counties in NC.
Funding for the program in Wake and Johnston counties comes from approximately $1.6 million in federal stimulus money.
“Ultimately we hope participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program can learn and assimilate key world of work skills that are essential to success in the job market,” said White.
For further information, please contact:
Tom White, Director
Economic Development Partnership
North Carolina State University