Philly’s summer jobs program for youth gets makeover, will focus on careers

Career Connected Learning PHL plans to hire 8,000 young people and expand year-round, work-based activities for an additional 2,000, replacing the city’s WorkReady program.

Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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The city’s summer jobs program for young people aged 12-24 is getting a makeover. In partnership with the school district and Philadelphia Works, a nonprofit job readiness firm, the program is launching Career Connected Learning PHL, or C2L-PHL.

The new initiative provides year-round learning and career opportunities with hundreds of employers across many industries, said a spokesperson for the city’s Office of Children and Families.

C2L-PHL plans to hire 8,000 young people this summer and expand year-round, work-based activities for an additional 2,000. This replaces the city’s WorkReady program, which connected thousands of youth to summer jobs during the school year over the past decade.

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Participants will access internships, mentoring, job shadowing and professional development.

This program is part of the vision by Mayor Cherelle Parker and Superintendent of Schools Tony Watlington, Sr. to keep young people engaged year-round and focused on workforce development and careers.

Students will be paid a stipend of up to $1,320 for the summer.

Previously, the Lenfest Center for Community Workforce Partnerships at Temple University has participated in the WorkReady program as a job site, said the center’s executive director, Shirley Moy.

This year, the center expects to place about 75 young people.

The program aims to give young people more than just a summer job. Moy said she agrees that those can be critical, but this program goes further in that it introduces youth to career possibilities and gets them off the streets.

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“We place students at both Temple and other partner locations, based on the student’s interests,” Moy said. “The biggest change, potentially, is the opportunity to work with these high school students year-round, versus just six weeks.”

Sean Vereen, copresident of Heights Philadelphia, a nonprofit group, praised the reworking of the summer jobs program, saying it would support young people and put them on a path to educational and economic opportunities.

“People need economic opportunities in the city,” Vereen said. “Everybody says education is important but they don’t go to the next step to connect it to economic opportunity.”

Vanessa Garrett Harley, director of the Office of Children and Families, said in a statement, “C2L-PHL will offer many of our young people their first experience in the workforce and will help them discover the many pathways that they can take to build life-sustaining and thriving careers.”

JEVS Human Services, a nonprofit group, will provide program oversight and fiscal management for C2L-PHL. It will also support program operations and facilitate employer engagement.

Jermaine Dawson, deputy superintendent of academic services at the school district, said the program will help students gain “valuable skills” to prepare them for the future.

“This partnership signifies an important investment in our youth, one that we hope engages them in Philadelphia’s workforce for generations to come,” Dawson said in a statement.

Patrick Clancy, president and CEO of Philadelphia Works, said he looks forward to working with the city and the school district.

The collaboration, Clancy said, will work “towards establishing a more streamlined, impactful and equitable youth workforce system for the future of Philadelphia.”

People can learn more about enrollment at the program’s website.

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