Summer Youth Employment Program expected to employ 60,000 participants

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined on July 15, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong, elected officials, employers and dozens of young people at Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan to kick off the Summer Youth Employment Program. SYEP is expected to employ a record 60,000 participants at 10,000 worksites this summer. Started in 1963, SYEP is the nation’s largest summer youth employment initiative, and provides New York City young people between the ages of 14 and 24 with up to six weeks of entry-level experience at worksites in all five boroughs.

SYEP is part of a larger citywide strategy to expand employment services for young New Yorkers. Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City launched the NYC Center for Youth Employment, a public-private initiative with the specific goal of supporting 100,000 unique work-related experiences each year, including high-quality summer jobs, career exposure, skills-building, and supportive mentorships, by 2020. In collaboration with City agencies, employers and other stakeholders, the Center for Youth Employment is focused on increasing private sector involvement in these programs as well as evaluating the City’s youth workforce system as a whole, with an eye toward expanding effective programs and filling in gaps.

In addition to young people who get jobs as part of SYEP, hundreds of young adults will be employed through Ladders for Leaders, a nationally recognized employer-paid internship component of SYEP for youth aged 16-22. Ladders connects high achieving high school and college students with paid, professional summer internships within leading large and small businesses, nonprofits and government agencies citywide.

In May, First Lady Chirlane McCray, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and leaders from New York City’s real estate, hospitality, business services, media and entertainment, and fashion industries announced the launch of a new strategy and approach for creating career opportunities for New York City young adults in the Ladders for Leaders program. The Mayor’s Fund has signed on companies in every borough and of all sizes to either host 500 students in paid, specialized internships this summer or sponsor those opportunities.

These opportunities will all be privately funded with the support of founding partners: Time Warner, Hearst, Discovery Communications, Pearson, CBS Corporation, Citi Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte, RBC Capital Markets, Guardian, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), NYC & Company, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME).

In 2015, with the support of the Center for Youth Employment, the City more than doubled the number of Ladders for Leaders internships (1,035) and opportunities for young people who are homeless, court-involved or in foster care (2,078). Through first-time partnerships with companies like AOL, Pandora and Medidata, more than 200 Ladders for Leaders positions were created in the tech industry, up from just 44 slots in 2014.

SYEP offers workshops on job readiness, career exploration and financial literacy, and opportunities to continue education and social growth. Specialized programming for disabled, foster care, runaway/homeless and court-involved young people is also available. Participants are selected by lottery for the program, which this year runs from July 5 through August 13. For participants who began work on July 11, the program ends August 20.

SYEP and Ladders for Leaders participants work at thousands of diverse worksites, including:

Tech: AOL (SYEP/Ladders); AppNexus (Ladders)
Fashion: Coach, Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren (Ladders)
Cultural Institutions: Brooklyn Children’s Museum (SYEP); Museum of the Moving Image, The MET (Ladders)
Media: Theatreworks USA (Ladders); VP Records (Ladders)
Retail: Modell’s, CVS (SYEP)
Health Care: Maimonides Hospital (SYEP)
Real Estate: Rapid Realty (SYEP); Tishman Speyer (Ladders)
Finance: Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America (Ladders)
Communications: Y&R (Ladders); Emmis Communications (SYEP/Ladders)
Law: The Legal Aid Society (SYEP)
Nonprofits: Gilda’s Club, Staten Island Historical Society (SYEP); The One Club (Ladders)
Government Agencies: FDNY, NYPD (SYEP); NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (Ladders)

As part of the effort to reach as many young people, families and employers as possible, DYCD has teamed up with prominent New Yorkers who got their start with SYEP, including Daymond John, the star of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The entrepreneur has recorded public service announcements to engage youth and increase employment opportunities for young people in the private sector. John grew up in Hollis, Queens, and was an SYEP participant in the 1980s.

Studies show that SYEP improves school attendance, offers new skills, and keeps teens and young adults safe—including youth who wouldn’t otherwise have access to paying jobs. A Wharton School study found that SYEP reduces incarceration rates and helps shield youth from external causes of death such as homicide.

For more information on SYEP and Ladders for Leaders, call 311 or Youth Connect at 1-800-246-4646. Also visit for a list of alternative job and internships throughout the City.

Employers looking to support New York City’s youth employment programs should go to the Center for Youth Employment’s website. Interested employers can also email the Mayor’s Fund at for more information.



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