Higher Achievement featured in White House New Summer Opportunity Project

Published on February 25, 2016 | 1.usa.gov/1QGwDK5 | White House

The Summer Opportunity Project will give young people access to their ‘First Job,’ and encourage investment in programs supporting summer meals and learning.

“Let’s make sure every young person knows that in America, we’re all committed to helping them achieve their dreams.”

President Barack Obama

Summer is a critical time for young people, and for many young Americans, it is also a crucial time to look for a first job—an important step in building skills and experiences for their future. Yet for a young person looking to start off in the workforce, the prospect of finding a job with a blank resume, limited education, and no meaningful connections to employers can be daunting. A study found that last summer nearly 46 percent of youth who applied for summer jobs were turned down.  The summer “opportunity gap” can contribute to gaps in achievement, employment, and college and career success, particularly for low-income students who lose access to critical supports that keep them safe, healthy and engaged during the school year. Summer opportunities have been shown to divert youth from criminal involvement and reduce overall violence, and they also offer a chance for young people to get their first exposure to the workplace and build financial skills that they can build on throughout their lives. But these benefits are only possible if young people can find those opportunities.

To meet this challenge, state and local leaders, community-based organizations, private sector leaders, philanthropic leaders, schools and other youth-serving agencies are coming together to create a set of supports that enable strong transitions from school year to school year and from high school to college and to create careers by implementing and spreading proven interventions. The Summer Opportunity Project is a multi-agency effort in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association and other collaborators to provide support to communities. The Project aims to significantly increase the percentage of youth in evidence-based summer opportunity programs, decrease the percentage of youth experiencing violence over the summer, and—more broadly—make sure that young Americans have the support they need to get their first job.

Research shows that Black and Hispanic teenage boys lag behind their peers in summer employment and year-round jobs. This employment gap broadens as young men get older, making them the highest percentage of the nearly seven million youth 16-24 disconnected from school and work. That’s why the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force recommended to the President in May of 2014 strengthening the case for summer youth employment and launching a cross-sector campaign to reduce summer learning loss and increase the number of job and internship opportunities for all young people. Today’s announcement builds on the Task Force’s commitment to this critical issue, and will engage the more than 200 communities that have accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge and scores of cross-sector organizations working to expand opportunity for all young people.

The Summer Opportunity Project will be launched tomorrow at a White House Summer Opportunity workshop and Champions of Change event that highlights local leaders making a difference in this space and brings together key stakeholders from around the country to share best practices and collaborate on future plans.

Key Efforts Launching at Friday’s Event in Support of the Project Include:

Private Sector Commitments

  • LinkedIn Small and Medium Business Engagement Tool
  • The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) Best Practice Network
  • New Higher Achievement Centers. Higher Achievement, a year-round, multi-year academic mentoring program for underserved middle school students in the 5th-8th grade, commits to the following activities this summer to close the achievement gap in Baltimore, DC, Pittsburgh, and Richmond: open five new Achievement Centers that are funded by the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, connect high school alumni to professional internships, bring 1200+ middle school students on college visits, and begin updating summer curricula to more closely align to Common Core State Standards.
  • LRNG Platform and Playlists Available For All Cities

Federal Agency Commitments

  • Summer Opportunity Federal Resource Guide
  • $15 Million from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to Help Youth Who Serve Their Communities Pay for College
  • Department of Labor Summer Jobs and Beyond Grant Competition
  • Summer Block Parties
  • Department of Education Summer Learning Portal
  • Open eBooks

Commitments from Cities to Expand and Improve Summer Programs

  • Los Angeles, CA. 
  • Seattle, WA.  
  • Charlotte, NC.  

Each of these cities has prioritized efforts to support youth entering the workforce as part of their My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge initiative.

Investments in the President’s FY 2017 Budget

President Obama’s ‘First Job’ funding proposal to connect young Americans with jobs and skills training to start their careers & Summer EBT proposal to ensure low income children have year round access to the food they need to learn and grow.

While our new efforts will be crucial to supporting more at-risk youth over the summer, reaching the scale needed to create opportunities for all at-risk young Americans will require significant new investments at the federal level.

The President’s FY 2017 Budget includes nearly $6 billion in new funding to help more than 1 million young people gain the work experience, skills, and networks that come from having a first job. On February 4, the White House and the Departments of Labor and Education announced the details of that plan, including nearly doubling last year’s budget request for supporting young people who are out of school and work.

Major investments of this plan include:

  • A New $5.5 Billion Proposal to Open Doors to a First Job.
  • New Proposed Investments to Give More Americans Skills for In-Demand Jobs
  • $12 Billion to Provide Summer Meals through Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children

Read the full press release at http://1.usa.gov/1QGwDK5