Summer Jobs: The Path to Economic Self-Sufficiency
By Daniel Alfonso, City Manager, City of Miami September 10, 2014 05:39 PM
This post is part of a series inspired by Pathways to Progress, a Citi Foundation initiative that works with community partners, city officials and Citi employee volunteers to help low-income urban youth develop the leadership experience, professional skills and the workplace know-how they will need on their path towards college and careers. Follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Pathways2Progress.
It's no secret: the summer season passes by very quickly for many, especially for high school students. They end their school year with finals, are free to enjoy their summer, a few weeks rush by and then all of a sudden, they are right back at their desks for another academic year.
The City of Miami recognized that these summer months are incredibly important and are an opportunity for growth, which is why we implemented a program, with support from the Citi Foundation and the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund, to provide both financial education and employment to the City's high-school students. Our goal is to provide an experience that we hope will set them on a path to economic self-sufficiency.
Through the Summer Youth Employment & Financial Empowerment program, we focused on hiring low-to-moderate income disadvantaged youth and engaging them in financial empowerment and education sessions. Leveraging the City's legacy in financial empowerment through ACCESS Miami, and the City's current financial empowerment coaching program, participants were placed in positions throughout city departments and select partner agencies.
We recognized that summer youth employment programs have been around for many years, but we wanted to go deeper and build our model around a financial empowerment program that employs youth. From the program sessions and participant feedback, we discovered that students left with many long-term learning experiences:
- Students gained financial empowerment through financial literacy programs that developed their understanding of paystubs, direct deposit, credit and money management, and budgeting, helping them make knowledgeable fiscal decisions in the short term and future.
- For many, this served as their first job, providing them work experience they previously never had and developing skills that will help prepare them for their next jobs and subsequent careers.
- Students learned a tremendous amount about the inner workings of City departments where they were placed and felt like they were truly part of the team.
A great example of the participants' learning lies in the saving pledges component of the program through which students chose their savings goals and pledged to save a combined $144,705. Of the 108 participants, 70 shared that their top two saving goals were "education" and a "motor vehicle", giving us great insight into what matters most to them. To reinforce the results, we promoted a savings contest and were elated to see that the top 15 students saved over $8,800 in just 8 weeks.
This program reinforced that knowing the language of money is important. It wasn't just about having a job. Through this program, these youths had the opportunity to see where the future can take them in terms of education, workforce and the skills needed to have long-term success.
Summer Jobs Connect, with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE), is a key program component of the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress initiative. Summer Jobs Connect is setting young people on the pathway to economic success through summer jobs, and with financial education and access to financial products.