Summer Youth Employment Program

The Little Rock Workforce Investment Area (LRWIA), it’s Board of Directors (LRWIB), and the Little Rock Workforce Center contractor (Arbor E & T) support and operate an annual Summer Youth Employment Program that provides a meaningful summer work experience to youth age 16-21. A large part of the strength of this program derives from its partnership with the existing SYEP implemented by the City of Little Rock, New Futures for Youth, the Summer Jobs Alliance, and tens of dozens of local employers willing to open slots for young people to gain valuable work experience for 6-8 weeks during the summer months. During a normal summer period the LRWIB contributes enough funding from its annual WIA allocation for 65-85 youth positions.

However, during the summer of 2009, these partners were challenged to increase the number of participants due to the infusion of funds made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The LRWIB and Arbor increased enrollment to 275. Again in 2010, ARRA funds made possible through a joint agreement between the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services – TANF Emergency Contingency Fund will make it possible to employ up to 300 youth in addition to the 75 youth currently enrolled under regular WIA funding.

The City and the Workforce Investment Board share outreach efforts in the Little Rock School District (LRSD) by making program flyers, brochures and registration forms available to counselors and principals of all area High Schools and also available online. Both organizations require that the young person be a resident of Little Rock, 16-21 years old, complete a 4-day work-preparation training course, and be willing to work 32 hours per week for 6-8 weeks at minimum wage. A participant can typically earn from $1,400 to $1,800 if they work the entire duration of the program. The City of Little Rock has an open enrollment policy, however, the LRWIB and its contractor Arbor can only enroll participants that meet normal WIA eligibility criteria regarding income and barriers. An employer of a youth participant signs a worksite agreement ensuring that they will provide a safe working environment, meaningful and needed work opportunities, and proper supervision and constructive criticism to the young person. They also attend a 1-day orientation that will prepare them to work with young people. Most employers usually come away from the program with the feeling that they have positively influenced the work ethic and future employability of the participant, who often is working for the first time as an official employee. Many employers will ask for the same youth to return and work for them again the next summer.

For more information, contact W.J. Monagle at:
501-683-3843, or w.j.monagle@arkansas.gov