Mayor Lightfoot unveils enhancements to summer jobs program, Youth Service Corps

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday unveiled what she called a $150 million “opportunity bounty” to pay, occupy and educate Chicago’s youth and prevent the traditional summertime violence flare-up.

After a pandemic that closed schools, isolated young people from friends and “fragmented or canceled curricular and extracurricular activities outright,” Lightfoot said she was determined to make this a “summer of joy” for young people.

To that end, Chicago’s annual summer jobs program will operate in-person — not virtually — with “no capacity limits.”

The program has also been enhanced in various ways, starting with compensation.

All summer jobs for people between the ages of 14 and 24 will pay the city’s minimum wage: $15 an hour. That’s up to $1,800 more in the pockets of young people whose families need it most.

“Ensuring that our young people receive minimum wage is fair. It’s fair. And it’s a big deal for them and their families,” Lightfoot said during a news conference at Foster Park Grounds, 1440 W. 84th St.

“Teens and young adults can use this money for household expenses, college expenses, and help them on the path to success. We know that many of our teenagers, especially given the hardships that families have endured over the past two years, … are directly responsible for providing income to feed their families, to help with expenses. This money will also contribute to that.

Another improvement: a career coach will be assigned to young people in summer jobs to “reinforce basic skills” such as showing up on time and working hard.

And, for the first time, to prioritize young people facing “special challenges” in applying for summer jobs, City Hall will mount what Lightfoot called an “aggressive outreach campaign” to reach them. and their families.

“Young people and families who are less connected to our schools, parks and libraries are less likely to know and have the time to go through all the steps necessary to complete an application. We don’t want that to be an obstacle,” the mayor said.

Whether they’re in the criminal justice system, in foster care, or disabled, Lightfoot said, “we want to make sure the digital divide and other barriers don’t prevent these…kids who need it the most.” to get a good job this summer.”

Finally, Lightfoot announced that an investment of $29.3 million will allow the Summer Youth Service Corps to transition from summer-only to year-round. The program was created during the pandemic to give 16 to 24 year olds paid opportunities to help their local communities.

“In Little Village, they made and distributed masks. In Austin, they created a podcast to reach residents and share information about COVID,” the mayor said.

“This flagship civic engagement program is now expanding to provide youth with a year of community service opportunities that strengthen their neighborhoods.”

Applications for the summer jobs program are now open on Applications for the Chicago Youth Services Corps are available at

“The bottom line is this: we want our young people to have literally tens of thousands of opportunities throughout the summer, most of them paying, so they can earn some money, improve their skills and actively engage in the pursuit of their passions,” said the mayor.

“Meaningful connections, opportunities and violence prevention strategies are all linked. We must be constantly and positively present in the lives of our children and young people.

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