Summer Youth Connect 2012 Kick-Off

Submitted by Bryan Hockaday on Tuesday, 7/17/12 - 12:11 pm :: 0 Comments

It was a real thrill and honor to help kick off the 2012 Summer Youth Connect program at Multnomah County and the City of Portland yesterday morning.

Over the course of the next eight months, 50 eager students will be working throughout Multnomah County, and another 96 at the City of Portland.

I am proud that we were able to double the scope of this program at Multnomah County from last year, and sincerely appreciate Chair Jeff Cogen and the rest of my collegues on the board for their support that allowed for this expansion.

I also commend Mayor Sam Adams for his support of Summer Youth Connect at the city and thank him personally for his partnership with this program -- a partnership that is easy to support because of opportunity it gives young people in our community.

We know all too well that getting a job is tougher than ever. Across Multnomah County, the unemployment rate is currently about 7.5% and about 8.4% across the state.

And as tough as it is for us adults, the rates of unemployment are even more astounding for our young people looking to enter the job market.

Competition is stiff. Jobs that used to be thought of as traditional summer jobs for teens are now much tougher to come by for high school and other working students.

Most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that a record 52% of youth ages 16-24 were unemployed For Hispanic youth, rates climbs upwards of 57%, and are highest for black youth at over 65%.

These rates are unacceptable and underscore the critical importance of Summer Youth Connect.

I know most adults remember his or her first summer jobs. That early work experience creates memories that you carry into adulthood, because of how empowering it felt to earn both responsibility and a paycheck.

For me, the summer job I think back on was being a tutoring coordinator during my undergraduate studies at Oregon State. I worked with my friends and I got to help other students succeed in school. I felt a sense of pride in a job well done that I still carry with me to this day.

The young men and women working in Summer Youth Connect will come away with those same experiences of responsibility and confidence that they will carry with them for a lifetime.

Summer Youth Connect is so much more than just a summer jobs program. It is part of a larger effort to address pressing needs in our community and to ultimately help grow and strengthen our workforce and economic prosperity of the City and County.

We all benefit when young people are productive, contributing members of society. When a young person is connected to a career-ladder job, they can take care of themselves. They also are more likely to vote, pay taxes, and avoid getting in trouble.

Again, I am ecstatic to greet all of our 2012 Summer Youth Connect interns and look forward to getting to meet those working at Multnomah County.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special shout out to De’Ontria McFerson who will be working in my office this summer. She will be a junior at Parkrose High School this coming school year and I am looking forward to working with her this summer.

Lastly, I especially thank Worksystems, POIC, IRCO, and our many other community and business partners. Summer Youth Connect could not be the success that it has become without this broad public and private partnership and collaboration.

For more information about Multnomah County's Summer Youth Connect program, visit