Press Release

With More Than One-Third Of Minority Youth Unemployed, Gillibrand, Heastie, Bronx Clergy Leaders Hold Roundtable Discussion To Connect At-Risk Bronx Youth With Job Opportunities

Aug 16, 2011

Bronx, NY – With more than one-third of the nation’s minority youth unemployed, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Assemblyman Carl Heastie (D-NY), and Bronx clergy leaders convened a roundtable at the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church discussing the need for federal legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk Bronx youth. The Urban Jobs Act that Senator Gillibrand is advocating for in the U.S. Senate would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations, allowing them to carry out programming to prepare youth for employment, particularly those who have dropped out of high school or have been subject to the criminal justice process.

“Supporting education and training for our Bronx 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 city organizations the tools and resources they need to help our 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 this difficult economy will have a lasting, positive impact on our community.”

“These are the types of initiatives that we support as we look to create both preventative as well as intervention solutions for Bronxites,” said Revs. Tim and Que English, Senior Pastors at the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church.  “We believe that implementing solutions from both perspectives will reduce the alarming school to prison pipeline statistics and offer hope where it appears to be absent.” 

The average unemployment rate for minority youths in urban communities in July was approximately 39% for African Americans and 36% for Hispanics. The city’s African American and Hispanic youths are twice as likely to drop out of school and make up more than 80% of the city’s detention centers. 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 under the Urban Jobs Act would assist youth in obtaining 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 direct the Secretary of Labor to establish a National Jobs Council Advisory Committee to analyze and advise 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.