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Stimulus dollars target youth jobs

Cynthia E. Griffin- | 5/6/2009, 5 p.m.

Los Angeles, CA -- Summer youth employment was not just a way for Nicole Graves to earn a little spending money. Participating in the HIRE L.A.'s Youth program last year was "path-forming," said the 2007 Dorsey High School graduate who had only held one other job previous to working as a student journalist in the city's Community Development Department, and was struggling to buy books during her first year of college at El Camino Community College.

But the job was not simply money, said Graves, who graduated from the Dorsey law magnet program and is majoring in political science and psychology.

"I met with people who have helped me in school. I met people looking to help me achieve," explained the young woman, who was one of more than 200 youth who turned out for the official kick-off of L.A. City's Summer Youth Employment program held on the Spring Street steps of City Hall.

She joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, actress Tichina Arnold (who has worked with HIRE L.A.'s Youth for the last two years), LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia, Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District Marshall Drummond as well as local Councilmembers Jan Perry and Herb Wesson.

This summer Villaraigosa said the city will be able to place more than 16,500 youth ages 14 to 24 in jobs beginning this month, thanks in part to $20.3 million in federal stimulus dollars L.A. received.

Los Angeles is the first city in the nation to use the Workforce Investment Act funding.
Among the local agencies that will have job slots are the Los Angeles Urban League, which currently has 100 young people working in a pre-employment program; Yo Watts which has 112 positions available; Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC); and the Los Angeles Community Colleges District whose chancellor pledged to hire 2,000 youth.

Private employers such as Kaiser Permanente, Vons and the Los Angeles County Fair have pledged in excess of 1,800 slots. More than 9,000 additional jobs will be provided through the city. Low income youth ages 14-24 who live in the City of Los Angeles, have a social security card and a permit to work will be placed in nonprofit and government agencies, schools and hospitals.
The idea is to expose them to careers in public service and in high growth industries such as green technologies, environmental awareness, health care, education and childcare.

Youngsters will work a total of 120 hours during a six-week period, and most of the employment opportunities begin in July. Applications must be submitted beginning May 18. Interested young people can call (800) for a job or 311, or go to the nearest OneSource Youth Opportunity Center.

Here are the local agencies that have job programs.

* The Los Angeles Urban League is conducting two sessions of summer youth employment. The next one begins July 1, and the agency has targeted hiring at least 75 youth. Youngsters ages 14 to 24 work 20 hours a week, and the program begins with a 20-hour work readiness course. Interested people should call for an application: (323) 292-8111.