BROOKLYN, NY – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. stood on the steps of City Hall to strongly urge a substantial increase in funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program.

The Summer Youth Employment Program is a crucial first step in the careers of thousands of young people across New York City. It provides New Yorkers aged 14 to 24 with paid summer employment for up to six weeks in July and August. Participants work entry-level jobs at a range of programs supporting the public good, including at government agencies, hospitals, non-profits, small businesses, law firms and museums. The program introduces young people to the workforce, allows them to explore career interests while they acquire marketable skills and provides supplemental income.

In 2015, only 41% of 131,897 applicants were accepted into the program after a lottery, resulting in a total of 54,263 enrolled participants. The largest groups of enrollees are the 14-15 and 16-17 year old demographic, accounting for 63% of the total FY15 enrollment demographic. Ethnically, Hispanic and Black students represent the largest proportion of participants in the program.

Rep. Jeffries said: “Every young person in New York City who wants a summer job should get a summer job. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For too long, New York City has consistently underfunded the Summer Youth Employment Program, leaving tens of thousands of young people out in the cold.  It’s time for New York City to more meaningfully invest in our future. The City should use part of its budget surplus to make sure that every eligible summer youth employment applicant has a job when school ends.”

Borough President Diaz said: “The Summer Youth Employment Program is one of the most important, most productive programs our city has to offer. Every year, it takes thousands of teenagers off of the streets and puts them in productive jobs. It supports them through educational programming and mentorship. I’m proud to stand with my friend Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to call for increased funding for this tremendous program.”

Despite the rising popularity of the program and the skyrocketing number of applicants, the city has failed to substantially increase funding in a manner that would provide job opportunities for the growing number of interested young people in New York City. The City can double the number of young people with summer jobs with an additional contribution of approximately $80 million, less than a tenth of the $1 billion the administration proposes to add to New York’s multi-billion dollar Rainy Day Fund.

Rep. Jeffries added: “It’s raining right now for many young people in Brooklyn and the Bronx whose employment prospects are scarce. That is why Borough President Diaz and I strongly support fully funding the summer youth employment program this year.”