Community

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer wants every company in the city to hire a high school student this summer.

“At least one,” he said at a press event Monday kicking off the annual SummerWorks youth employment program.

SummerWorks launched in 2011, initially putting 200 young people to work during the summer in Louisville. The program has ballooned since: Last year, companies in Louisville hired more than 2,500 young people via SummerWorks.

Fischer regularly pitches the business community to get involved by hiring a young person or donating funds to support the program. He said it costs about $2,500 to create one job at a nonprofit or city agency.

The Metro Council last week nearly slashed the program’s allotment from the city’s surplus spending plan.

For weeks, council members have been discussing how to spend a nearly $10 million budget surplus. One proposal supported by Fischer called initially to send about $400,000 to SummerWorks.

Negotiations outside of council chambers eventually led to that allocation being cut in half. And some council members quickly blasted the move.

Democrat Jessica Green of District 1 said she had a “major problem” with reducing the funding.

“When we talk about what we can do to keep children on the right track, the SummerWorks program is what I believe to be a squeaky wheel that should be getting some oil,” she said during a council budget committee meeting last Thursday.

The full $400,000 allocation was restored after other council members spoke in favor of SummerWorks.

On Monday, Fischer said the money would cover the cost for 160 young people to take part in SummerWorks this year.

Humana and Kindred Healthcare will participate in the program for the first time this year, Fischer said. Humana officials are pledging to hire 25 young people for the summer.

UPS also aims to hire more than 100 high school juniors to work part-time hours at the Worldport shipping hub, Fischer said.

Other participating companies include General Electric, the Louisville Zoo, Thorntons, YMCA of Greater Louisville and the Belle of Louisville.

Applications are now being accepted from potential employees and employers.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.