Community Development Block Grant
San Angelo, TX - Mayor Johnny Fender
Youth Employment Program
Supervised jointly by the City's Personnel and Community Development Departments, San Angelo's Youth Employment Program (YEP) is an innovative approach to providing employment and higher education opportunities to targeted low- and moderate-income at-risk youth - with a 99 percent success rate.
A 1994 study prepared for the Shannon Medical Center indicated that 15.6 percent of the population in the Concho Valley region lived below the poverty level. Knowing that children in low-income families are three to four times more likely than other children to drop out of school, San Angelo officials used CDBG funds to create a Youth Employment Program that would engage these at-risk students in self-improvement activities; provide them with positive, consistent and constructive support; impart career knowledge and workplace skills; and make a significant difference in their lives by preparing them to enter the labor market and become self-sufficient. The Program includes work experience which helps them make their career decisions, develop a work ethic, and earn money needed for personal necessities which their families may not be able to afford.
Entering its third year, YEP provides long-term employment for nine to 10 students in departments throughout the City. It is the long-term employment that makes the Program unique: Students are chosen (preferably) during their junior year in high school and are employed by YEP through their 60th hour of college study. The students work 20 hours per week during the school year and 30 hours per week when school is not in session.
Two high schools - Central and Lake View - are providing students for YEP. Counselors at the schools refer candidates to the City where they go through the interview and application process specified in City personnel guidelines and, in addition, complete an income eligibility form. While 90 percent of the Program is dedicated to low- and moderate-income students, in fact, 100 percent of those participating are from low- to moderate-income families.
In partnership with Howard College, an area community college, the City provides skilled trainers for a computer course attended by the students prior to their employment. The City's Public Housing Authority, through its Family Investment Center, contributes the space and the computers for the course, and the Center's director helps the students, as a volunteer, to complete their Pell Grant and other financial aid applications. Supervisors in the City departments attend a mentor training class conducted by the Tom Green County Juvenile Justice System. Work site supervisors are responsible for providing realistic work and training, exposing students to City and department policies, keeping accurate records, and evaluating student job performance.
These collaborative efforts have held the cost of YEP to a minimum. Almost all (97 percent) of the CDBG funds are going into student salaries; the balance is used to purchase books for the training classes.
San Angelo officials say YEP is a classic "win-win" model, with the City gaining an excellent pool of employees and the students gaining valuable work experience - experience which breaks the "no experience, no job" cycle.
Contact: Tom Adams, City Manager, (915) 657-4241
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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