Keeping our youth active in summer

As a father of two daughters growing up in San Francisco, I understand the importance of a meaningful summer experience and the critical role it plays in the lives of children, youth and families in our city.

That's why I have made it a priority this summer to provide opportunities for our young people, by eliminating wait lists, expanding academic and recreational activities and challenging employers to provide more summer jobs through Youth Jobs+.

The Youth Jobs+ Initiative targets young people, ages 16-24, to provide training, skills and work exposure while helping them experience the connection between education and their future careers.

This innovative program is in its fourth year and has connected more than 19,000 young people to jobs and internships including 23-year old Jose, an immigrant from Guatemala and former foster youth. As a chocolatier at Ghirardelli, he is building confidence, improving his interpersonal communications skills, and learning how to work in a team while he pursues a degree in criminal justice at City College.

Last month, hundreds of youth came out to Moscone Center to attend our annual Youth Jobs+ Initiative Resource Fair, a signature event to help our young adults find jobs citywide. More than 100 job and internship offers were made just at this event.

Over the last year, thanks nearly 200 employers including city agencies, nonprofits and companies like Starbucks, Old Navy, Square, Glide Memorial, the Third Street Youth Center, our young people received valuable work experience in downtown offices, in the arts, in computer science, retail, engineering, landscaping and more.

Youth Jobs+ specifically focuses on our most vulnerable youth including those in foster care, in the justice system, from low-income communities and those who do not have the right-to-work documents.

I am calling on all employers to participate in our Youth Jobs+ and create opportunities to mentor future industry leaders, and to consider giving youth like Jose a chance to access quality jobs.

I am also calling on our youth to put a résumé together, register at sfsummerjobs.org, and view the hundreds of job openings available to them. And if you don't have a resume, our energetic support service team can help you get started.

Be our partner, participate, and support the Youth Jobs+ Initiative. Visit sfsummerjobs.org or call 311 or 211 to learn more and to open up a world of possibilities for our young people.

Ed Lee is mayor of San Francisco.

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