By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Cincinnati Youth Employment and Development Initiative (YEDI) got a $2 million boost Friday from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide summer jobs and year-round workforce training for area teens.
The Department of Labor announced that it would give the jobs program $1 million a year for the next two years to expand services.
Former Procter & Gamble CEO John Pepper, who has led the program, said the additional funds will allow the number of youngsters who will receive year-round job training to grow from 200 to 700. That's roughly half of the 1,300 youths expected to be placed in jobs by the program.
"The grant is significant because it allows us to plan for two years, rather than living hand to mouth," Pepper said.
The Youth Employment and Development Initiative was started two years ago in the wake of the April 2001 riots as a way to teach 14- to 22-year-olds in Greater Cincinnati about possible careers. Three organizations - the Urban League, the Citizen's Committee on Youth and the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency - oversee the program.
During its first year, the program put about 2,000 youths to work and raised nearly $3 million from public and private sources - numbers some residents viewed as unsuccessful because organizers had initially promised 3,000 jobs. The estimated 1,300 youths placed this summer is slightly fewer than the number placed in 2002.
This year's program has received wide support from the Greater Cincinnati business community with more than 40 sites offering unsubsidized jobs and 171 sites with subsidized positions.
The program "has been instrumental in helping to create a model for the nation," said Emily DeRocco, assistant secretary of the Department of Labor.
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