Spotlight Program


May 2018

Youth Summer Jobs Program

Chicago, Illinois
Participants in the youth summer jobs program

Summer is almost here, and warm weather predictably causes an increase in violence in the Chicago and other urban areas. Research has shown that one proven way to reduce seasonal violence is to connect at-risk kids and teens with employment opportunities. The Youth Summer Jobs program at Holy Cross Parish in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood has a history of doing just that. The program gives young people the opportunity to earn income while learning skills that will help them remain employed throughout their lives. The program’s young workers stay engaged with activities that build self-esteem in an environment that values and rewards service to the community—all while keeping them off the street and away from violent activities.

Youth are placed in one of four job categories depending on their age, maturity level, interests, and skills. Throughout their employment at the parish, all the young workers are supervised by experienced adult parish staff who can serve as natural mentors. Young people are required to complete résumés, interview for their positions, show up on time for their scheduled work shifts, fill out timesheets, and learn the appropriate way to call in sick or request time off.

When these young people are given responsibility and are rewarded for their work, their confidence grows. For many, contributing to household expenses is a source of pride and satisfaction. They may choose to use their summer income to purchase new school supplies and clothes for the following academic year, which is a big financial help to their families.

And perhaps most importantly, the impact of summer jobs lasts long after the summer is over. Research suggests that youth who hold summer jobs are less likely to be involved in violence throughout the year that follows.

Experts have said for years that “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” However, the number of open jobs for this program varies every summer based on the amount of funding available, and the Illinois budget crisis has made funding for this and other crucial youth programs almost nonexistent. This important program needs your support to continue to reduce violence in Chicago this summer. Please consider making a donation to the Youth Summer Jobs program today.

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