Nov. 14, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The lesson learned from earning a buck is something the Governor wants to help instill in Missouri’s youth.
At a press conference at Kansas City’s Young Adult Career Connections Center Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon announced an expansion of administration’s efforts to improve job and career opportunities for young Missourians in low-income communities next summer. Through the program, 1,500 Kansas City-area youth will be paired with a job or internship in the summer of 2015. The program was compared to the state’s State Park Youth Corps, except it will encompass more than just work in city, county and state parks’ departments.
The governor was joined by area youth, business leaders, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and U.S. Representative Democratic Emanuel Cleaver II .
The program is designed to help area youth become financially responsible before hitting adulthood. Nixon recently announced a similar program for 2,000 St. Louis-area youths — 3,500 youth between the two cities. Those in the program will receive a pay of $8-an-hour for 30 hours of work per week from $4.5 million the state received for the program from federal grants. Funding for the initiative in Kansas City will come from federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds. BEcause of improving economic conditions and job growth, extra funding became available through the TANF program, which can be used to provide services for young Missourians in families under 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
Both Cleaver and Sanders praised Nixon for the program.
“This is not just a job program but it’s also an anti-crime and anti-homelessness program,” Sanders said.
Nixon said a person’s first job is where they typically learn the basic, foundational skills and values used later in a career. However, for youth in low-income areas, access to these opportunities is limited.
“Getting kids started out on the right path is vital to keeping them on course to financial independence, a rewarding career, and a successful life,” Nixon said.
The Missouri Office of Community Engagement will work with employers over the upcoming months to offer rewarding, high-impact work experiences for Kansas City’s youth. The office will partner with the Full Employment Council, Inc. which operates the Kansas City and Vicinity (KCV) workforce investment board and the Eastern Jackson County (EJC) workforce investment board.
This past September, the Nixon signed an executive order creating the Office of Community Engagement, which is responsible for facilitating communication with Missourians and informing policy solutions for the unique challenges facing low-income and minority communities. The Governor appointed former State Senator Maida Coleman as the office’s director. The former state senator said this is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The program will also provide resources for supportive employment services such as mentoring and case management.
“Employers get to build a pipeline of energetic and motivated workers to consider for future employment, while young people learn valuable on-the-job skills,” Coleman said. “We look forward to working with local workforce investment boards and community leaders to help connect young people in Kansas City with area businesses and good summer jobs.”