Oakland City Council Leadership Seeks to Improve Youth Summer Jobs Program to Prepare Youth for the Future and as Crime Prevention

Date Posted: March 15th, 2022 @ 9:55 AM
Last Updated: March 15th, 2022 @ 10:08 AM
Image of Vice Mayor Kaplan, Council President Fortunato Bas, President Pro Tem Thao, and Councilmember Fife

Oakland, CA — Councilmember Carroll Fife, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Pro Tem Sheng Thao, and Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas are introducing a resolution at the March 15, 2022, City Council meeting to scale up and make the City of Oakland’s Youth Summer Jobs Program more visible.

Oakland residents are facing numerous issues, including growing economic inequality as wages have stagnated while the cost of living continues to rise, leaving Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and other historically marginalized families in very difficult economic straits. These same communities have also historically lacked access to meaningful employment opportunities, especially young people in Oakland’s flatland neighborhoods. The city’s current Summer Youth Employment Program has sought to mitigate these issues by providing youth, ages 16-21, with paid work experience -- preparing the next generation of Oaklanders to join the workforce and as an incentive for youth to plan for their futures.

Summer jobs are not only a means to earn money but can serve as a tool to address public safety concerns and build connections between young people and their community. A recent study of youth summer jobs programs in major cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, found that summer jobs programs significantly reduce participants’ risk of committing crimes. The findings in the study align with the City of Oakland’s own work to reimagine public safety that underscores that crime prevention starts with creating the conditions for true safety, including providing real opportunities for those who would not otherwise have them.

However, Oakland’s Summer Youth Employment program currently relies on various fund sources such as the General Purpose Fund, the Measure HH Fund, discretionary allocations from the Council, and private and philanthropic contributions, leading to inconsistent levels of investment when the level of need has continued to increase. This has resulted in fluctuating youth participation over the years. Additionally, the current structure of the program is decentralized and relies heavily on contracting out to agencies for youth services, making it difficult to assess progress and impact. Furthermore, the involvement of several in-City and outside entities in program functions, make it increasingly complicated and can contribute to limited accessibility for communities most in need.

Seeing the importance of this program and the need to improve it, the Councilmembers are introducing a resolution to seek state funding, leveraging private sources, and prioritizing additional allocations during the mid-cycle budget amendment process; to better integrating the administration, funding, contracting, and coordination of the program; to create a robust outreach plan to help popularize the program; and to expand City of Oakland positions for youth to summer and year-round work.

Additionally, in advancing this program, the resolution seeks to expand the City’s role as an employer by using the Summer Youth Employment Program as a pathway to year-round employment, including developing apprenticeship programs in City departments to create pipelines to permanent, full-time positions within the Offices of the City Council, Parks and Recreation and Youth Development, Department of Transportation, and Fire Department etc.

When: March 15, 2022 at 11AM

Where: Oakland City Council Meeting

Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87017736493

Legislation: Link

“It is important to invest resources and plan to create additional pathways for youth to join the workforce. Studies have shown that providing youth summer jobs reduces violent crime, not only during the time of employment but in the future. The City of Oakland has the opportunity to proactively reduce crime while simultaneously training the next generation of city staff – staff that provide important community services to all of Oakland,” stated Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Councilmember Carroll Fife states, “From the Brookings Institute to the Harvard Business Review, countless research studies show that youth jobs are an essential public safety tool whose benefits far exceed their costs. The City Council has a responsibility to create opportunities for Oakland’s young people, throughout the summer and year-round, that we haven’t seen in years. Today’s resolution provides the direction necessary for Oakland residents of all ages to benefit from robust and intentional investment in our youth.”

Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao states, “By investing in our young people and creating pathways to good-paying, union jobs the City of Oakland can help lift up so many communities often left behind. Ramping up and expanding the youth summer jobs program is an investment in public safety and will help ensure Oakland remains a great place to raise a family. My city job helped lift me out of poverty and that opportunity should be available to ALL Oaklanders.”

Media Contact

Kimberly Jones, Chief of Staff to Vice Mayor Kaplan