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City invests $18.7m in summer jobs for youth

12,000 teens apply to jobs program, double that of last year

Tanisha Bhat
City invests $18.7m in summer jobs for youth
Connie Wu has a summer job as a teaching assistant at Kwong Kow Chinese School in Boston’s Chinatown. PHOTO: ABCD

Seventeen-year-old Gricelda Castro is spending her third summer working at The BASE, an organization that teaches young people about sports, college access, career development, health and wellness and STEM learning.

“Working with the kids is definitely a lot of fun,” said Castro, who teaches young children about softball and robotics.

In Chinatown, Connie Wu, 14, said she enjoys her summer job at Kwong Kow Chinese School, where she works as a teaching assistant and plans weekly activities for students.

“I [used to go] to Kwong Kow when I was younger,” said Wu. “I really admire their work ethic.”

Wu and Castro are among the 7,000 teenagers ages 14 to 18 who are working throughout Boston as part of the city’s SuccessLink Summer Youth Employment Program.

Earlier this year, Mayor Michelle Wu announced a $18.7 million investment in the youth employment program. That means 5,000 youth jobs at local nonprofits and community organizations and 2,000 city positions, officials said.

Approximately 12,000 young people applied for these jobs this year, city officials said. Those numbers are an increase from last year when there were 6,000 youth jobs available and only 4,500 teenagers applied and took the positions.

Officials said there are still additional openings, including youth leader, office assistant, food service worker and other positions. They said they are counting the number of available positions and encourage Boston teens to apply.

Summer jobs not only help build critical job skills, but also emphasize development for future careers in public service and other areas. Other positions include tutoring, serving as camp counselors or working on the environment, at a museum or in public service.

“This summer is about providing young people with pre-pandemic levels of job opportunity,” said Rashad Cope, the city’s deputy chief of Worker Empowerment and director of the Office of Youth Employment and Opportunity.

“Everyone has come together to make sure that we are providing as many young people in the city of Boston [as possible] who wanted a job with a job opportunity this summer,” Cope said. “It’s an amazing feat that we were really able to at least reach those numbers thus far.”

The summer jobs process started in the winter when students submitted their applications and identified their positions of interest.

Lori DiPina, chief program officer for BASE, said these jobs are full circle moments for many of the teenagers. So far, BASE has placed 32 teens in jobs within its organization and at other nonprofits.

“A lot of my younger ones look up to the older ones, and to have them come back and be their camp [leaders] …really shows and reinforces what we’re trying to do at BASE,” DiPina said.

The job prospects are also good at Action for Boston Community Development, which has connected almost 600 teenagers with jobs this summer. The goal is to get 1,200 young people employed by the end of the year, said Ron Marlow, the organization’s vice president for workforce development and alternative education. 

“It is the gift that keeps on giving,” Marlow said. “We know that young people who participate in the labor market while still in high school actually do better in school and also do better participating in the labor market after school.”

City teens seeking jobs are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to get processed and matched with a job before the end of summer.

Wu, the teaching assistant in Chinatown, said her job will help cover personal expenses and offer some relief to her immigrant parents.

“They’ve been working really hard to pay for a lot of things that I have right now,” said Wu, an incoming freshman at Boston Latin School.

Castro, the teaching assistant at BASE, said her summer job reminds her of the first time she began working at BASE.

“I looked up a lot to the older girls who were playing ahead of me, and I wanted to get to the level they were at,’’ said Castro, an incoming senior at The Windsor School.

Through the organization, she has also participated in programs with Converse where she worked with graphic designers and marketing specialists.

“It’s really like seeing my family every day,’’ she said. “I love that about the job.”

Mayor Michelle Wu, SuccessLink Summer Youth Employment Program, summer jobs, youth employment