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Community leaders push to keep kids off streets with youth employment program

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BROOKLYN— New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams not only remembers his first job as a newspaper delivery boy but also has valuable lessons that remain with him to this day.

"It helps you to figure out, you have to get somewhere on time.  You have to understand how social centers work within a job setting, responsibility, you help with budgeting, there are so many essential skills that we need in life that come from that first job so much that people don't forget their first job," Williams said.

This is why Councilman Williams collaborated with the Community Service Society of New York to call on the city produce more youth employment opportunities through the Summer Youth Employment Program. 

"We want to make sure that jobs for young people are a priority in this budget," said Williams.

Williams added that various groups and agencies have been the recipients of funding under the de Blasio administration, but this is one that should not be left out.

"We've put funding in other places.  It's time to put funding here."

A report by the Community Service Society of New York states that in 2015, 110,000 young New York City residents between the ages of 14 and 24 applied for 55,000 minimum-wage paid slots. 

According to Williams, jobs are entry-level and range from the public to private sectors.

"I believe that Modell's is one of the largest private employers that are taking some youth— they haven't had any issues," Williams said.

The program was originally designed decades ago to get kids off the streets and introduce them to a professional experience and environment. Councilman Williams expressed how there are additional benefits.

"All the data shows it helps keep young people alive.  It helps keep them out of jail."

Brandon Santano, a 19-year-old who wants to be a computer technician says the program is good for self growth.

"There is actually something I can do for myself to better myself in life. In order to get where I want to be."