Vol. 13, No. 8 April 20 - May 3, 2000


Summer Jobs Back on Track
Lawmaker Says Deal Almost Done


A pending budget deal in Albany slates $35 million to rescue the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), potentially restoring thousands of jobs for teens eliminated by federal legislation passed last August. A tentative bi-partisan agreement was reached earlier this month, according to Bronx assemblyman Roberto Ramirez, who predicted at press time that the legislature would vote on the entire budget this week

Along with thousands of local teenagers who work at local organizations and businesses, the big winners are dozens of day camps that depend on teens from SYEP for staff, and the parents who have come to rely on the programs, many of them free, for child care.

Until the budget is approved and the city is able to distribute the money, program administrators hope for the best.

"By this time last year, we already had 6,000 applications," said Bob Altman, director of the SYEP program at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC), which employed about 2,300 teens last summer. "Everything is on hold because we don't know how many kids they're going to give us. So I can't do anything yet. They're going to let us know at the last minute and we'll have to make do."

Once MMCC gets the OK from the city, teens will begin to fill out applications. Then, the center requires job applicants to supply the appropriate documentation, get approved and go through orientation. The process will be hurried, and to cope Altman expects that the seven- week summer program may start a week late this year.

The apparent good news for the center and young people did not come without a fight. For the past several weeks, teens, community activists, youth advocates and elected officials from all over the city lobbied the City Council and the state legislature.

Widespread support for the budget agreement in Albany was largely "because of the work that has been done, including a rally that 400 kids attended in Albany," said Ramirez, who was a key player in brokering the agreement that restored the summer jobs program.

Ramirez was confident the deal is on the verge of being signed, sealed and delivered.

"I am not only optimistic," Ramirez said. " I believe this issue has been put to rest."


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