7/16/2015 - Mayor Finch announces additional youth summer jobs for kids in Bridgeport, applauds Starbucks initiative to create 100,000 jobs for youth nationally

“We’re investing every day in Bridgeport’s future.  I’m pleased  to announce that we are offering even  more jobs this summer for our youth in Bridgeport and grateful that Starbucks is leading the charge nationally to find jobs today for our young people that will prepare them compete for the jobs of tomorrow.”  -- Mayor Bill Finch

Bridgeport, Conn. (July 16, 2015) – Mayor Bill Finch this week announced he added nearly 100 more summer jobs for Bridgeport youth and applauded an ambitious Starbucks-led initiative to find jobs for unemployed young people nationally.

“We’re investing every day in Bridgeport’s future,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “I’m pleased  to announce that we are offering even more jobs this summer for our youth in Bridgeport and grateful that Starbucks is leading the charge nationally to find jobs today for our young people that will prepare them to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.” 

Through the Mayor’s Conservation Corps, Lighthouse Programs, City Parks and Recreation Department and a partnership with the WorkPlace, Inc., the additional jobs will bring the total number of summer jobs to over 750 this year.

“In Bridgeport, we are working hard to provide opportunities and valuable life experience for our young people,” Mayor Finch said.

Mayor Finch pointed to the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative” as a collaboration with major corporations to help America’s youth. 

In an effort led by Starbucks and its chief executive Howard Schultz, nearly 20 major corporations created a plan to find jobs for 100,000 young people over the next three years.

According to the New York Times, at 18.1 percent, the unemployment rate for workers age 16 to 19 remains more than three times as high as the 5.3 percent jobless rate for the entire work force. Unemployment among young people has remained stubbornly high, rising a full percentage point since February, even as other economic yardsticks have improved.   

Last year, Starbucks began a plan to enable its baristas to earn a college degree online from Arizona State University, with the coffee giant picking up much of the bill.

According to a new study, teenagers with summer jobs gain a competitive advantage later in life. The study reveals that along with more references and heightened skills, kids with jobs progress to better-suited careers and are able to find a job more easily as adults.

This week, Mayor Finch talked with about 40 young people who have started summer jobs with the city and its partners.

Mayor Finch said his summer jobs as a kid taught him invaluable lessons about hard work and responsibility that he has carried through life – and has tried to instill in his four sons.

Mayor Finch spent eight summers during high school and college doing landscaping. As a teen, Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. said he worked at a pharmacy near his house in the Hollow neighborhood. Tammy Papa, the director of Youth Services and the Lighthouse After School and Summer program, worked at a bakery.

This summer, the Mayor’s Conservation Corps began its sixth season. The summer youth job program, created by Mayor Finch in 2010, is a team of young adults who canvass Bridgeport neighborhoods speaking with residents about a number of issues, including: recycling, stormwater management via rain barrel use, tree planting, and offering the opportunity to sign up for home energy audits.

“Young people in the Mayor’s Conservation Corps will be trained in valuable green job skills that help protect our community and preserve the earth,” said Director Willie Murphy. “We’re giving a young people real world perspective while shaping their skills to ensure that we have a stronger workforce and community in place tomorrow.”

The city’s partnership with the WorkPlace, Inc. adds a number of local businesses to the roster for job opportunities. The organization, established as a Regional Workforce Development Board in 1992, works to prepare people for careers and strengthen the workforce of the state.

“For every young person, a good paying job at a young age can be an important step in their journey toward adulthood and self-reliance,” said The WorkPlace President and CEO Joseph Carbone. “The WorkPlace commends Mayor Finch and the city for its support and leadership in facilitating the growth of youth employment opportunities.”

Jobs in customer service, marketing, landscaping, as camp counselors or even a police assistant were among those available to youth. Kids ages 14-21 will be selected for the new 100 jobs from an application waiting list by random lottery.

Chief Gaudett said summer job programs also help enhance public safety.

A recent study in Chicago, he said, showed that a program that provided jobs for at-risk teens reduced violence in the city and provided lasting benefits for the teens even after the summer ended.

The summer jobs program is part of a comprehensive strategy that helps young people and young adults in Bridgeport to succeed and excel.

The city supports a range of initiatives that help put kids on the path toward success. 

The Police Explorers program teaches important lessons and life skills for kids interested in public safety. The Lighthouse program provides invaluable after-school programs, academic tutoring and summer jobs. The city is partnering with the United Way to ensure all kids have access to quality pre-K services to ensure kids are prepared when they start kindergarten. New and renovated schools provide kids with state-of-the-art facilities that prepare them for the jobs of the future. 

And, the City provides and supports a range of summer youth programs that keep kids active and engaged in supportive environments.

"It's not only the summer jobs. Those are great and provide such great life lessons that prepare kids for great careers when they grow up," said Mayor Finch. "It's more than that. It is about the many caring and devoted Bridgeporters who work every day on so many different levels to keep our kids safe and on the path for future success." 

"These are the folks that help Bridgeport get better every day."