Youth Opportunities Unlimited- Rapid Response
Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s ability to “gear up fast” is the key to its success in taking advantage of governmental funding for summer jobs programs for at-risk teens.
Putting Thousands of Youth to Work–Fast!
Between political gridlock and budget pressures inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway, it’s hard to predict from year to year whether the federal Department of Labor will supply funds to localities to underwrite summer youth employment programs. “You might hear of DOL saying to the County Workforce Development Board in May—‘Hey, we have money for summer jobs. Can you get something going?’” laughs Carol Rivchun, Executive Director at Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) in Cleveland. “You have to be prepared or the opportunity is missed.”
Y.O.U. has been careful not to miss those opportunities and as a result has helped more than 150,000 Cleveland area youth in the past 30 to develop job and life skills that can help them realize their full potential.
To seize all available summer youth employment opportunities, Y.O.U. has a built a year-round partnership with schools, government officials, agency heads, and private employers so that it can “gear up fast” to match thousands of students with available jobs within just a week or two if money becomes available. Last year they successfully placed 3,200 youth into summer jobs and boasted an impressive 90 percent job retention rate.
Y.O.U. recruits students through contacts with school teachers, guidance counselors, and staff at youth centers like the Boys and Girls Clubs. At the heart of the system is Y.O.U.’s online pre-registration process. “Throughout February and March kids can sign up indicating their interest in taking a summer job. We can gather information on their location, age, and career interests,” says Rivchun. “We also have a mobile phone app that allows teens to register through their cell phone.” Meanwhile, Y.O.U. staff contact a variety of private and public employers to see what positions they would have available for youth if federal dollars came through. “By April, we may have 12,000 students in our database ready to match with thousands of available jobs.”