Friday, July 13, 2001

Jobs-for-youth promise not kept, protesters say

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Confusion and frustration over the much-publicized 3,000 summer jobs promised to Cincinnati youths in the wake of April's civil unrest led to a protest Thursday in front of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati.

        More than 3,000 youths who attended a job fair in May applied for one of those jobs. Two months later, almost half are still waiting to be employed.

        At a news conference, a group of English Woods residents said city and business leaders made unrealistic promises to children and their parents after the uprisings that followed the April 7 police shooting death of Timothy Thomas.

        “Somebody needs to be accountable to our children and let us know where the jobs are and why these kids haven't been placed in them,” said Marcia Ma'Ree Battle, vice president of the English Woods Civic Association Community Council.

        Henderson Kirkland, a Westwood resident, said many youths were depending on those jobs for work experience and to help pay for school clothes and supplies.

        “Was this just a Band-Aid to pacify us in response to the uprising?” Mr. Kirkland said.

        Job program officials said they're hustling to meet the lofty goal of a hastily organized initiative. They say the jobs are there, but not enough staffing and too much red tape have hindered the process. The $2.2 million program is subsidized from taxpayers and private companies.

        The Urban League and the Hamilton County-Cincinnati Community Action Agency (CAA) — two of several agencies working to place youths at job sites — said they have combined to assign jobs to more than 1,500 youths since the program began.

        “This is a lot more complicated than just lining kids up, giving them a slip of paper and saying, "Go to work,'” said Gwen Robinson, executive director of CAA. “You have to match kids up with a job that they want that fits their skills and transportation needs.”

        Ms. Robinson said the CAA alone has placed about 800 youths at 75 job sites across Greater Cincinnati.

        Job program officials say they intend to make more information available today on the program's success rate.


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