The initiative is a collaborative effort between the city of Trenton, former Mayor Douglas Palmer, MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce president Robert Prunetti and Millhill Child & Family Development.
Jackson, Palmer and Prunetti say the six-week program provides city kids with valuable work experiences and job skills that they otherwise might not have access to.
“For all the investments that can be made in our city … this is one of the greatest investments that anyone can make,” Jackson said at Tuesday’s launch. “Investing in our youth is really the linchpin to us advancing our city. We’re really asking employers out here to invest in a child in the city of Trenton. It will help us grow, have an employable workforce and educate our kids about work and work ethic.”
Employers can either hire one or more youths and pay their wages or sponsor them.
Prunetti estimates that $2,000 per youth will cover training, wages and other administrative costs.
The tax-deductible donations are set aside in an account by the chamber’s foundation and used to pay the wages of those placed with a nonprofit organization.
Of last year’s 85 participants, 49 worked in government jobs, 34 in nonprofit jobs and another two in for-profit jobs.
The majority were high school students, which made it difficult to place them with private sector companies, but Prunetti says they are trying to get more interest from young adults ages 18 to 24.
“Trenton, unlike other cities, doesn’t have a strong private sector,” Palmer said. “That’s why it’s important for the private sector to help with this program. We’re asking them to really help the child. It’s more than just a job. Hopefully it will get them experience and teach them the value of work.”
As part of the program, the city employs a number of the youths in its summer recreation and food service programs or clerical work.
But whether participants are placed with the city or an area nonprofit or business, everyone is required to attend a two-day job readiness training at Rider University. The dates are April 29 and May 6.
“We thought it was important not only to give a kid a job over the summer but to make sure that these young people understood the world of work and what it meant to work,” Prunetti said.
The training topics range from resumes and proper work attire to how to be a good employee and deal with conflict on the job.
The program is currently accepting applications and youths are strongly encouraged to apply sooner rather than later.
Those interested in a city job should contact recreation director Fiah Gussin at 609-989-3635. Those interested in a job with a nonprofit or business should contact Millhill’s Jigna Rao at 609-989-7333, ext. 131.