Charlotte’s current Summer Youth Employment Program put only 360 kids into internships. While providing internships to Charlotte’s youth is a laudable goal, it does not help save children and teens from violent crimes or income inequality.
In 2016, Baltimore expanded their youth employment program after the previous year’s riots connected to the Freddy Gray case—they employed nearly 8,000 youth in their city. This year, Washington D.C. plans to employ almost 13,000 through their comparable Summer Youth Employment Program; this is the direction Charlotte needs to head. The current selective process of applications and placement in internships is great for the select few, but Senator Ford would champion a Summer Youth Employment Program that puts thousands to work.
Charlotte has 75 businesses partnered with the city to provide internships to youth but does not yet have a streamlined process for simply getting teens into jobs. With increasing crime, income and educational inequality, the need for jobs to keep teens busy, off the streets, and out of harm’s way could not be more apparent. By maintaining and expanding the list of 75 businesses to number in the hundreds, Charlotte’s municipal government can directly act to save lives and increase the earning potential of our youth. Working during the summers will help Charlotte’s teens bolster their college applications, prepare for future employment, and practice fiscal management.
As Mayor of Charlotte, I will work tirelessly to recruit businesses to employ youth who apply and qualify for the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program. We can dramatically increase the hiring of teens by expanding the existing partnership with Mecklenburg County, allocating funding to each department of the city for MYEP hires, and pursuing increased private sector involvement. As someone who previously owned and operated multiple local businesses, I will encourage MYEP hires in a way that is compatible with local small business interests and needs for employers. We will keep and expand the program for advanced placement internships and encourage the continued partnership between cutting-edge private companies and Charlotte’s most gifted youth.