Thursday, May 17, 2001

Summer job plan grows into wider opportunities

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        What started as a plan to keep 3,000 teens off the streets this summer is now a drive pushing everything from temporary jobs to careers in nursing, construction and banking.

        And when the doors open to the Youth Employment Fair on Saturday at Taft High School, kids aren't the only ones who will be in line filling out applications.

        Business and political leaders, who announced the jobs program last month as a response to the worst riots in Cincinnati since 1968, say they have raised nearly $2 million and expect up to 40 employers to take part in the job fair.

   What: Youth Employment Fair 2001.
   When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
   Where: Taft High School, 420 Ezzard Charles Drive.
   Who: Anyone aged 14-25.
   What to bring: Picture identification, birth certificate and Social Security card. Parents must accompany chidren 17 years and younger. Dress appropriately.
   More information: Call 513-475-4804 or www.Cycyouth.Org
        “Four weeks ago we had zero jobs and zero money. Now we have close to $2 million and 3,000 jobs,'' said Dr. Oscar L. Britton, executive director, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. “Anybody who wants to work this summer can have a job.”

        Organizers say so many jobs have been promised that anyone ages 14-25 can attend the fair.

        “We wanted to give people an opportunity to get in the job market,” said Bernadette Watson, chief of staff for Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken.

        “We are targeting youths and those who are high risk,” she said.

        In addition to entry-level jobs, training and apprentice programs will also be available, Ms. Watson said.

        The job drive is a component of a race relations panel announced by Mr. Luken to help address economic and social problems in the wake of the riots.

        Despite the seeming abundance of available jobs, Mr. Luken and others said the plan, called the Summer Youth Employment Initiative, will give low-income youths a chance to link skills to employers.

        Procter & Gamble Co. chairman John Pepper spearheaded a series of meetings involving representatives from businesses, social organizations, the city and Hamilton County.

        Several private companies — including Frisch's, Kroger and Paramount's Kings Island — have offered to sponsor training programs and pay salaries for summer help.

        The Urban League, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative and Community Action Agency will also supplement various work programs.

        Saturday's job fair is just the beginning of the programs, said Gwen L. Robinson, Community Action Agency chief executive officer.

        “People want to hire you, that's the message we've been sending,” Ms. Robinson said.


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