The Milwaukee Courier, like many Milwaukee area residents, is focusing on the need for jobs, job creation and the high rate of unemployment, especially in the Black community. With more than 50 percent of working age Black males ages 14 – 64 unemployed, it is not hard to see why there are so many quality of life disparities and debilitating poverty in the Black community.
As noted in previous articles, there are both public and private sector efforts underway to reduce unemployment, but with the number of people needing jobs and the slow economic recovery, lowering unemployment will not be quick or easy. However, as we work diligently to reduce joblessness for adults, there is one thing we can do immediately.
With a community wide effort, we can rally support for Mayor Tom Barrett’s Earn and Learn Summer Youth Jobs Initiative. The Earn and Learn Program has several components: community work experience, summer youth internships and private sector job connections. Each year the Mayor augments public money with contributions from the corporate community to fund summer youth jobs and work experiences. Last year the program employed 2,400 youth during the 6 – 8 week summer program.
This year the Earn and Learn Fund Corporate Lead Team will consist of: Giacomo Fallucca, president & CEO of Palermo Village, Inc.; Paul Jones, president & CEO of A.O. Smith; Mark Sabljak, publisher of The Business Journal; and Don Smiley, president & CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.
Corporations should be commended for their support and contributions to the program, but we need additional summer jobs so more youth can use their energy earning money productively and developing work habits at an early age.
In order to increase summer youth jobs, we need all sectors of the community to pitch in and help. If churches, small businesses, fraternities/sororities, non-profits, civic groups and individuals make donations, collectively we could significantly increase the number of youth jobs this summer. Mayor Barrett has established a youth jobs fund and tax deductible contributions can be made to the address below.
Providing more summer youth jobs will not solve the unemployment crisis and we must keep focus on getting our adults back to work. However, in the short-term, increasing summer youth jobs is something we as a community can do right now.
In addition, an investment in youth jobs will pay dividends in the future. When these young people become adults, they will have a better understanding of the real world of work and the value of having a job.
To make your tax deductible donation to the Earn and Learn Fund, send your donation to:
Mayor’s Earn and Learn Fund
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation
101 W. Pleasant Street, Suite 201