Photo courtesy of PSYEP 2013 Report
Moving the Lives of Kids (MLK) Mural Project provided youth with an opportunity to consider art as an occupational choice. They planned and painted a mural depicting Pittsburgh’s rich Jazz heritage, located in the Strip District.

By Alyse Horn

In part of his reform on the city, Mayor Bill Peduto is transforming the Summer Youth Employment Program to benefit as many adolescents in Pittsburgh as possible.

According to a press release, SYEP currently serves 400 young people out of nearly 1,000 who apply.

Mayor Peduto said he has created a Mayoral Task Force for Summer Youth Employment Opportunities “to ensure that every young person in the City of Pittsburgh who wants to has both the opportunity for meaningful career development and the ability to earn a little extra money through this program.”

“Through this Task Force, I will engage the business community, labor, nonprofits, foundations, and partners at the national level to help us reimagine this program to serve more young people and provide a clear pathway to their future success,” Mayor Peduto said.

According to the City of Pittsburgh’s official website, the SYEP provides a six week work experience for youth ages 14-21. Work assignments follow two tracks: conservation-related outdoor work where youth crews help to restore or maintain public properties and parks; or internships in public sector or private sector offices performing a wide range of business or clerical functions. Youth are paid $7.25 per hour and work six hours per day.

Mayor Peduto said the Task Force will be co-chaired by the Chief Administration Officer and the Chief Education and Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer and will include 10 additional members including a least one representative each from the philanthropic community, the business community, organized labor, and the Pittsburgh Public Schools and at least two members of Pittsburgh City Council.

The Task Force is charged with finding ways to expand access to the program, identifying new funding sources and placement sites for employed youth, and recommending new strategies for expanding career development opportunities.

On February 18, members were appointed to the task force as follows: Debbie Lestitian, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Pittsburgh as Co-Chair; Dr. Curtiss Porter, Chief of Education and Neighborhood Reinvestment, City of Pittsburgh as Co-Chair; Jim Denova, President of Benedum Foundation; Andrew Butcher, CEO of GTECH; Fred Redmond, International Vice President of United Steelworkers Union; Dr. Linda Lane, Superintendent at Pittsburgh Public Schools; Theresa Kail-Smith, Member of Pittsburgh City Council; Reverend Ricky Burgess, Member of Pittsburgh City Council; Stefani Pashman, Chief Executive Officer of Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board; Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Promise; Laura Fisher, Senior Vice President for Special Projects at Allegheny Conference; and John Lydon, Executive Director at Auberle.

“The City of Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program can be a powerful tool in the effort to open the doors of economic opportunity for our city’s youth,” Mayor Peduto said. “I ask this new committee to make sure that we are providing the best opportunities for young people to establish ladders of opportunity to build careers, not just typical summer jobs.”

The Task Force will provide recommendations and an action plan to the Mayor and City Council by April 30, 2014.

More information can be found at www.pittsburghpa.gov/personnel/pittsburghpartnership/psyep.