By Gregg McQueen
When the city’s latest budget was approved on July 1, it included $51 million for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).
The funding came as a relief to many after Mayor Bill de Blasio had initially proposed cutting the program entirely to help the city weather a $9 billion deficit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The pared-down initiative, rebranded as SYEP Summer Bridge 2020, will offer 35,000 young people employment in a virtual setting over a five-week period from July 27 and August 28.
While SYEP was partially restored, it is still slated to help less than half of the young people it did the previous year.
“We’re happy we got something, but it’s still not enough,” said Eddie Silverio, Director of Alianza Youth Services for Catholic Charities of New York.
“Last year, the city had over 75,000 slots and more than 135,000 young people applied. That shows you how much it means to people.”
“We get calls every day from families asking what is going on with summer programming,” he said.
The nation’s largest youth employment program, SYEP provides young people ages 14 to 24 with career experience, project-based learning activities and financial literacy. It is aimed at children from low-income families.
“With many participants, the money they earn from SYEP goes to help their families pay bills,” Silverio said. “With so many parents out of work due to the pandemic, those are funds that are very much needed.”