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Summer Program Offers Opportunities for Young People in Central Ohio

August 27, 2015 

Summers are a time for students to take a break and relax after a long school year, but they are also an opportunity to prepare for tomorrow. 

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is an 8 week program that runs from June through August offering young people the chance to attain new skills and learn what professions spark their interest. Eighty local students, half of which qualify for Temporary Assistance of Needy Families (TANF) funds, participated. The program is coordinated by St. Stephens Community House and focuses on empowering youth, ranging from ages 14 to 24, through the development of professional skills and community engagement. Among other activities, students were asked to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP) that focused on providing recommendations to the Near East Side Community on how their neighborhood can become more livable for people of all ages and abilities.

"Having the opportunity to engage students in thinking critically about their communities, not only benefits the students, but everyone involved,” said Jordan Whisler, an Associate Planner at MORPC.

Key elements of the program include identifying transportation challenges, prioritizing housing needs, developing safe walking maps and identifying health challenges. Furthermore, students had to create a plan to address educational inadequacies of the seven schools in the Partners Achieving Community Transformation (PACT) geography and develop strategies to enhance public safety in the community.

“We are able to support young leaders, give them real world experiences and provide analytical and critical thinking skills that can be applied inside and outside the classroom, “ said PACT Director and MORPC Board Member Trudy Bartley.

Partners of the program include PACT, St. Stephen’s Community House, Franklin County Board of Commissioners, City of Columbus, MORPC, OSU School of Architecture – City and Regional Planning, and the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation (COWIC).