UAC, Nutter, Business Leaders: Jobs for Teens Imperative

June 30, 2011

There’s a push to ensure that the city’s youth have summer employment. Mayor Michael Nutter joined Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president of the Urban Affairs Coalition, in urging the business community to support additional summer jobs for teens. During a press conference held at the UAC’s offices in Center City, Matlock-Turner encouraged businesses to make $1,000 donations for summer internships.

Matlock-Turner, whose first job came when she was 13-years-old picking peaches, said, “While there are not many opportunities to pick peaches in the city of Philadelphia, there are literally thousands of other job opportunities in the city for teenagers. We cannot rest until we have reduced the number of teens who are now ‘wait listed’ for summer jobs due to lack of funding.”

Every year, WorkReady Philadelphia programs provide summer jobs for low-income young people ages 14 to 21. Last year, 36,000 young people applied for 11,800 available slots. This year, the city faces a lack of available summer jobs — with 14,500 applicants vying for just 5,550 slots.

The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) administers the WorkReady program on behalf of the city and a range of funders, including government and foundation grants and significant private sector investments.

As the largest subcontractor for the PYN, the UAC has processed 1,009 applications for 500 available slots.

“It leads to work opportunities for young people,” Nutter said as he reiterated the importance of summer employment for teens.

“It’s not just about the money. It’s also about skill building and improving their competencies in the workplace.”

The push for support comes at a time when the nation’s youth unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 24 percent and Congress is considering cutting federal funding for the summer job program.

Nutter noted that if Congress cut the funding for summer jobs, it would impact the nation’s justice system.

“Our Philadelphia Police Department and departments all over the United States of America will end up picking up the collateral damage as a result of these acts of Congress cutting summer jobs programs — which will be a disaster all across the U.S.,” said Nutter.

David Buckholtz, an 18-year old who has been placed in summer jobs by the UAC since he was 14, helped to make the case for the importance of the WorkReady program.

Buckholtz, whose first summer job site was at the Franklin Institute Science Museum, is now working for Turner Construction.

“The Urban Affairs Coalition has helped me move ahead in my life by giving me an opportunity I didn’t even think was possible, and then continuing to play a constant role by helping me to prepare for post-secondary education and professional job placement,” said Buckholtz, who heads to Pennsylvania State University in the fall to study aerospace engineering.

“My career goal is to be an aerospace engineer, and ultimately come back to Philadelphia and give back to my community.”

When Demetris Lacey, a recent graduate of the Boys Latin Charter School, submitted an application for a summer job through the UAC, he was initially denied due to lack of funding. However, it was announced during the press conference that he secured a job opportunity.

“As a student preparing to begin my college career, it’s important that I understand the professional world. The WorkReady program would not just give me technical skills but soft skills like resume writing, interviewing skills, leadership development and even finances for education,” said Lacey, who will attend Slippery Rock University in the fall to study forensics.

During the event, $1,000 donations were received from Mayor Nutter, Councilwoman Marian Tasco, Matlock-Turner, Ross Associates, Inc., WES Management Services, CH2MHILL, PRWT Services, Inc., LMS Clothing Corporation, Distante Philadelphia, Blackmon & Associates and McKissack & McKissack for a total of $12,000.

According to WorkReady Philadelphia, it costs $1,600 for a student to have a summer job, which is based on a $7.25 hourly wage.

For information visit or call (267) 502-3800.

Ayana Jones
Philadelphia Tribune