Press Release

At Eastview Middle School, Gillibrand Announces New Legislation To Connect Local At-Risk Youth With Job Opportunities

May 20, 2011

White Plains, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today stood with Westchester community leaders to announce new legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk youth. The Urban Jobs Act would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations, allowing them to carry out programming to prepare youth for employment, particularly benefiting youth that have dropped out of high school or have been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process.

“Supporting education and training for our youth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This program would give organizations in Westchester County the tools and resources they need to help city youth prepare for future jobs, find employment opportunities, and reach their full potential. The skills they would acquire through this program are invaluable. Helping our youth compete in the difficult economy will have a lasting, positive impact on our community.”

“Helping young people have stable employment options is among the wisest investments we can make in their long-term productivity and future opportunities.  Reducing youth unemployment also strengthens our community and overall economy.  I commend Senator Gillibrand for her work to promote employment for young workers, and I will continue working to ensure all New Yorkers have access to stable and good-paying jobs,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

“On behalf of all the residents, employees and youth in the great city of White Plains, we are honored to have Senator Kirsten Gillibrand join us today to bring much needed attention to youth employment. I too am committed to increasing the number of paid jobs for our youth, coupled with the necessary training to ensure they are prepared for successful careers in our rapidly changing economy. I share the Senator’s belief in the importance of employment in the development of a young person and I look forward to working with her in implementing the Urban Jobs Act legislation,” said White Plains Mayor Tom Roach.

“The plight of African Americans and our forgotten youth is well-documented by the media, academics and politicians.  The Urban Jobs Act addresses these concerns by offering job training, education and other support services for urban youth.  Today we stand together with Senator Gillibrand to help make the invisible visible, and to secure the future of our nation’s young people,” said Arva Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League.

“When a young person is invested in a job, it not only provides an opportunity to earn a little extra money, but it also raises the confidence and sense of accomplishment for that young person.  This contributes to smarter students, safer neighborhoods, and a highly skilled and prepared workforce for the future,” said Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins.  “This legislation helps young men and women from urban communities become a part of the economic mainstream; and, in the process, provides the business community with motivated job-ready workers. I want to thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership and steadfast support on this issue and I look forward to working with her locally.”

“It is important that we find ways to give young people the opportunity to find work and help them achieve their true potential, especially since we have such a high unemployment rate among youth,” said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (35th District- D/I/WF). “Senator Gillibrand’s legislation will provide grants to programs that benefit at-risk youth, which will help lift up our communities and move our state and country toward the economy of tomorrow.”

Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge) said, “Many New Yorkers are struggling right now, but that doesn’t mean we should give up the fight for some of our state’s most at-risk kids. As a former law-enforcement official, I understand that a lack of educational and employment opportunities for some of our urban young people may lead to rising crime rates, increased social-welfare spending, and a whole class of individuals excluded from a dynamic, 21st-century economy. Older, educated skilled workers have lost their jobs in this tough economic climate. Now imagine how difficult it must be for a twenty-something without a high school diploma to find work. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this issue and I look forward to working with our local partners to increase employment opportunities and educational access for our most at-risk young people. The Urban Jobs Act is a huge step forward in crime prevention and economic development and demonstrates that the American Dream does not depend on where you grow up, but where the dignity of productive achievement takes you.”

The unemployment rates for certain segments of the youth population are significantly higher than the national average. In many urban communities around the nation, roughly one-third of minority youth are unemployed. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 percentage points lower than the labor force participation rate for high school graduates.

Lengthy periods of unemployment early in a young person’s work life can have lasting negative effects on future earnings, productivity, and employment opportunities. Developing policies such as those proposed by the Urban Jobs Act would assist youth in acquiring the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market, helping reduce youth unemployment and strengthen the economy.

The Urban Jobs Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received a grant would provide a comprehensive set of services that includes:

  • Case management services to help participants effectively utilize the services offered by the program;
  • Educational programming, including skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, General Education Development (GED) credential preparation, and post-secondary education;
  • Employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, placement in community service opportunities, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development; and
  • Support services, including health and nutrition referral, housing assistance, training in interpersonal and basic living skills, transportation, child care, clothing, and other assistance as needed.

The Urban Jobs Act would also directs the Secretary of Labor to establish a National Jobs Council Advisory Committee to analyze and advise on the implementation of the Urban Jobs Program, and have successful applicants establish local jobs council advisory committees to aid in establishing community support for local implementation of the program.