Community

Louisville’s SummerWorks program helped a record number of youth find jobs this year, city officials announced Thursday. 

During a news conference, officials said nearly 7,000 young people between 16 and 21 were employed this year with help from SummerWorks. That’s up from more than 6,200 last year.

Metro United Way Chief Equity Officer Daryle Unseld said he’s excited for the program’s growth.

“Our community believes that all young people are assets, right? And we are investing in those assets,” Unseld said. “It’s all about providing those quality opportunities for young people because, again, we are investing in our future.”

A new report commissioned by KentuckianaWorks, the program’s operators, found that 84.2 percent of SummerWorks employers surveyed said the program was beneficial to them, with 100 percent saying they’d recommend the program to other employers. The report also said that participants were more likely to graduate high school and find a job than youth outside the program. 

SummerWorks was started in 2011 by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer with the goal of connecting youth who have fewer advantages to summer jobs. That year, the program helped employ 216 youth.

SummerWorks is funded through public funds and private donations. As part of a lean city budget, the city this year cut $100,000 from SummerWorks’ budget. At the time of the announcement of the cuts, Fischer pledged to donate 20 percent of his salary to the program, around $25,000, which is expected to help fund the program’s 2020 season.

Fischer said SummerWorks is doing great things and he’d like to see more employers participate.

“We’ve got thousands of more companies that could step up and help us,” Fischer said. “What we find is SummerWorks benefits the employers as much as it does the summer youth.”

Employers who participated this year include Heine Brothers’ Coffee, Crowne Plaza, the U.S. Census Bureau and Kentucky Kingdom.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.