Summer Programming Pushing Prosperity

Recent research from Prosperity Now, a national organization working to ensure everyone has a chance to prosper, finds some sobering messages concerning the American economy.

In its 2017 Prosperity Now Scorecard, the organization is finding that while prosperity is taking some workers to a better economic situation, due to an unpredictable environment, many others are being left behind. While unemployment is down to about pre-recession levels, “there has not been an accompanying increase in the number of quality jobs—those that pay enough to cover the bills and enable workers to save for the future.”

The research finds that many people are stuck in low-wage jobs that make getting by an everyday challenge. Researchers found that 25 percent of jobs in the country are low-wage occupations meaning they pay below the poverty threshold for a family of four which in turn means there is not enough income to cover the cost of living for even a full-time worker. In addition, they found that 44 percent of households are unable to set aside savings for emergencies.

With all of this in mind, PYO is now entering our 20th summer focusing on giving teens needed employment skills like communications, critical thinking and professionalism. Now that July is in the rear view mirror and with only three weeks of summer internships remaining, here is a brief rundown of how we are working to prevent Durham youth from being left behind:

Part of the Keep Durham Beautiful Crew

  • While 27 students went through Summer Career Academy training, a total of 39 students (including those who attended previous years’ trainings) are working internships.
  • By the second week of Aug., students will have worked about 3660 total internship hours.
  • Of students who have taken previous PYO employment training, a total of 29 have spent the summer working jobs that they found on their own including retail, medical establishments, financial institutions, the food industry and restaurant management, local cities and towns to even research assistants at higher education institutions.
  • New students have opened 20 savings accounts with an average savings rate of 57 percent.
  • A total of 23 internship work sites including:
In addition, recent research from the Brookings Institution and its Metropolitan Policy Program finds that “’strong, mature summer jobs programs tend to be multi-sector and “multi-tiered.’” Jobs are secured in nonprofit, public, and private-sector settings, and young people are matched with jobs of varying levels of responsibility and complexity based on their age and work readiness.”

These researchers go on to say that even if there is a wide variety of employment opportunities for youth, the typical summer jobs program cannot easily provide the comprehensive services and support, such as case management and counseling or long-term relationships that allow youth to “engage, disengage and re-engage” with their programs and in turn find success.

While pushing our youth forward in order to “get ahead,” PYO is unique in this aspect in that it provides students with the very opportunities many other youth training programs do not such as chances to fail, try again and then finally succeed.