In 1993, Portland Mayor Vera Katz initiated a collaborative planning and funding process between the City of Portland and The Private Industry Council (TPIC) for summer employment and education programs for youth. TPIC (the federal JTPA fund administrator for the Portland area) and the city's Housing and Community Development and Economic Development offices worked together on what has come to be know in the community as the "mini-proposal" program.
To make the mini-proposal program work each agency had to agree on common processes, outcomes and proposal formats. This included agreement on the importance of providing academic enrichment as endorsed strongly by President Clinton and the Department of Labor beginning in 1994. The city and Mayor Katz readily agreed that giving youth opportunities to not only earn money but acquire credits required for graduation was the right direction to head with the city's summer youth programs. The mini-proposal program is jointly funded by JTPA and the city general fund. The city has committed $125,000 and TPIC has contributed $175,000 for the past three years for total funding of $300,000. This year Mayor Katz showed her commitment to the youth in Portland by offering to provide up to an additional $300,000 of funding had JTPA funds not been allocated at the last minute by Congress.
Each summer for the past three years, over 800 Portland youth have received summer services through the program. Every summer over half of these youth earn required or elective credit that can be applied toward their high school graduation requirements. The typical youth served in these summer youth projects is behind in school or may have dropped out. Research has clearly shown that high school credit deficiencies are a major reason many young people never complete their educations. They simply get too far behind, become frustrated and quit. Summer is an excellent time to help young people get back on track and/or make a successful re-entry into an educational program.
In the summer of 1994 there were 15 projects funded; in 1995 there were 17; and for summer 1996 there are 13. An example of the type of project funded in 1995 is the Envirocorps which was sponsored through Portland State University's Americorps program. There were 16 youth age 14 to 18 years enrolled from the North/Northeast area of Portland. These youth were matched with Americorps volunteers and participated in a water drainage/conservation project along the Columbia Slough, adjacent to the Columbia River. Through this project the youth participated in river bank restoration, educational activities and rain gutter drainage conversion in the local neighborhoods. All 16 youth successfully completed their summer experience by maintaining a 95 percent attendance rate and earning half an elective credit for their work experience and half a required credit in science.
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (503) 823-4120
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.