Newark Mayor Ras Baraka Credit: City of Newark/City Hall photo

Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Board of Education Superintendent Roger León, and JPMorgan Chase’s Global Head of Corporate Responsibility Demetrios Marantis launched the financial firm’s national $20 million, five-year philanthropic investment to support summer youth employment programs in 24 cities. JPMorgan Chase highlighted Newark’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and committed $150,000 to it. The announcement took place at Dr. Marion A. Bolden Student Center, located at 230 Broadway in Newark’s North Ward.

The announcement was coupled with a roundtable discussion featuring a Newark SYEP employer and a youth highlighting the impact of the Newark program and its goal to enroll 3,000 participants for 2022. 

“Investing in our youth is critical for our future and it begins with ensuring that they have access to programs such as Summer Youth Employment,” said Mayor Baraka. “These summer work experiences help to develop young minds by teaching them valuable interviewing and workplace skills, financial empowerment, and providing opportunities to explore different career pathways. JPMorgan Chase’s investment will enable Newark and other cities across the country to continue to implement these proven practices, expanding the horizons of thousands of youth and providing them with access to in-demand, living-wage jobs. I thank JPMorgan Chase for putting more Newark youth on a path to success and a trajectory that will help them to build wealth for themselves and their families.”

Newark’s six-week program typically employs more than 3,000 teens and young adults from ages 14 to 24 in jobs related to their career interests. The program is recognized nationally for its intentional design that provides youth with tiered opportunities to experience the workforce paired with soft skills and financial empowerment training. During the pandemic, Newark SYEP pivoted to respond to the needs of its participants and the community by focusing on remote work experiences, virtual coaching, webinars, and presentations highlighting each of the critical program components. The number of youth served tripled under Mayor Baraka’s leadership, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which required the provision of even more supports to our young people, including food and technology assistance. In fact, Newark SYEP was one of the few summer job programs in the state to continue to be offered at the height of the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing racial and economic crises have had a disproportionate impact on young people, especially for those in under resourced communities who have had to juggle supporting their families and preparing for their own futures,” said Marantis. “Early employment opportunities for young people are incredibly valuable and often provide the necessary skills, network and experience they need for future career success and economic mobility. Working closely with local government, employers and community partners, we can help ensure that more young people are exposed to these critical learning experiences and can benefit from an inclusive economy for a brighter future.”

Nationally, unemployment rates among youth aged 16 to 24 worsened during the pandemic, which saw the lowest levels of youth summer employment since the Great Recession. Youth aged 16 to 24 in lower-income families were disproportionately affected by these disparities. As work experience and education has become more valuable, the pathway to a good job has become more challenging for young adults, particularly those from underrepresented communities.

According to new research from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, to secure a good job, young adults need to acquire high-quality work experience and more education than was necessary for previous generations. Unequal access to high-quality work experience through work-based learning programs and youth employment further contributes to gaps in good jobs.

JPMorgan Chase is committed to supporting quality summer work opportunities for young people. In 2013, the firm made an initial commitment to SYEPs to increase the number of available summer jobs and expanded that commitment to $17 million across 19 sites in 2017. Since then, the firm has helped thousands of young adults benefit from learning and work experiences.

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