PARSIPPANY — Representatives Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) and Mike Lawler (NY-17) introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Communities through the Summer Employment Act. This legislation will provide funding to Summer Youth Employment Programs to expand job opportunities for youth and to develop innovative programs that improve economic and criminal justice outcomes for young people in New Jersey and across the country. These evidence-based job programs have a proven track record of reducing crime rates. Particularly at a time when criminal organizations are recruiting minors to commit auto thefts and other crimes in New Jersey, this legislation will give young people economic opportunities that will help keep them out of the justice system and strengthen the safety of our communities.
“I saw firsthand as a former Outreach and Reentry Coordinator at the U.S Attorney’s Office that job training programs not only help people get ahead but can also significantly reduce crime and improve public safety. I’ve heard similar feedback from mayors, law enforcement, and community leaders across New Jersey,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill. “That’s why I’m taking action with legislation that will offer thousands of young New Jerseyans an opportunity to build important career skills and enter the workforce, which will set them up for success later in life and make our communities stronger and safer for the long-term.”<
“My college summer job as a snack vendor at Yankee Stadium gave me invaluable work experience and enabled me to hone my time management skills. By providing youth with meaningful employment opportunities, we not only empower them to develop essential skills, but we also instill a sense of purpose and responsibility,” said Rep. Mike Lawler. “For these reasons, I’m proud to join Rep. Mikie Sherrill in introducing The Strengthening Communities through Summer Employment Act, which would create a grant program to help fund Summer Youth Employment Programs and improve economic and criminal justice outcomes for youths. Jobs serve as a powerful deterrent, redirecting the energy and aspirations of our young population toward building promising futures. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bipartisan bill passed.”<
The Strengthening Communities through Summer Employment Act has been endorsed by the National Troopers Coalition, International Union of Police Associations, New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Business and Industry Association, Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris, andNewBridge Services. Original cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Don Davis (NC-01), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Kathy Manning (NC-06), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), and David Trone (MD-06).
“The National Troopers Coalition is pleased to endorse the Strengthening Communities through Summer Employment Act introduced by Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Mike Lawler. Our leadership, as well as our membership of approximately 47,000 state troopers across 43 member states, appreciate the leadership of Congresswoman Sherrill in working to address systemic youth unemployment,” said Nathan S. Johnson, Chairman of the National Troopers Coalition. “We know through experience that our communities are safer when young people have the opportunity for productive activities throughout the year. We believe this legislation represents an important investment in providing young people with productive summer opportunities, increasing their skills, improving their economic opportunities, and helping to strengthen our communities.”
“The International Union of Police Associations is proud to announce our support of the Strengthening Communities Through Summer Employment Act. The act will provide subsidized employment opportunities for our youth and, as we have seen, have a major impact on juvenile crime rates,” said Sam Cabral, President of the International Union of Police Associations. Many of our youth have little access to jobs, leaving them without worthwhile activities and the opportunity to build their self esteem and learn job skills. The programs have been shown to significantly reduce juvenile crimes where it has been available in Chicago, New York and Boston. We look forward to an expansion of this program and the positive results it will have on the safety of our communities and the future of our young.”
“Whenever we can engage with youth, investing in their ongoing education, emotional well-being, and leadership opportunities, there is a beneficial impact. Law enforcement firmly believes that positive and ongoing engagement with youth directly correlates to a reduction in criminal activity,” said Rockaway Borough Police Chief and New Jersey State Chiefs of Police Legislative Committee Chair Conrad Pepperman. “Statistics routinely show that summer youth employment programs drastically reduce crime and interactions with police. The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police strongly supports this bill and appreciates the Congresswoman’s efforts to create subsidized jobs for teens. It is impactful legislation that deserves widespread support.”
“Preparing our youth for the workforce is a top priority for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce – and our Foundation – and it is never too early to begin that critical work. By providing summer employment opportunities in communities where they are not always available, we are helping students to build the necessary skills to enable them to succeed long-term in college or at future jobs,” said Thomas Bracken, President & CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “We applaud Rep. Mikie Sherrill for recognizing the importance of this issue – and especially for introducing the Strengthening Communities Through Summer Employment Act which aims to benefit those youngsters from challenging and often disadvantaged backgrounds.”
“NJBIA joins Reps. Sherrill and Lawler in strong support of the Summer Employment Act. As we helped create and advance into law a bill that would expand teen worker hours in New Jersey, we understand the great need to help employers find more youth workers, allow them more opportunities for more hours and more pay, and also help New Jersey residents and visitors receive better service at their favorite destinations, retailers and stores,” said Michele Siekerka, President and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. “Improving criminal justice outcomes through enhancement of existing employment programs, or the creation of new ones where needed, makes this bill a win-win-win for employers, employees, and the public.”
“I am excited to see Congresswoman Sherrill’s new legislation ‘The Strengthening Communities through Summer Employment Act’ introduced today,” said Senator Linda Greenstein (LD-14). “These programs not only help young adults get started in the workforce, but they allow them to gain truly invaluable career skills and life experience. New Jersey – and the nation – will be well-served by this legislation.”
“Our Annual Summer Youth Employment Program provides high school and college age residents with opportunities to gain valuable experience that will help prepare them for the workforce and their future,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.“Congresswoman Sherrill’s Strengthening Communities Through Summer Employment Act legislation represents a greater investment in the future of our young adults and will help put our next generation on a path to success.”
“Summer youth employment programs have been a great source of support for young students to obtain much-needed funds to assist them in the following school year,” said Essex County Prosecutor Ted Stephens. “Entities like the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office would certainly compete for these funds because, we believe, a summer with our office can provide the unique opportunity to develop great mentor/mentee relationships while helping dispel negative community images about law enforcement and the careers it can offer.”<
Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll said in support, “The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, and New Jersey law enforcement through recent juvenile justice reforms, strive to help young people avoid involvement in criminal conduct. Subsidized jobs, made possible through the proposed Act, could be one such method for connecting youth with meaningful employment, and potentially avoiding an unacceptable escalation of misconduct. In addition to income, our young people can gain career skills and mentorship, which enable them to grow into stable, adult citizens.”
“Keeping our children engaged in meaningful productive activities is essential to their success as students and human beings. Programs, such as these, keep our children engaged in positive initiatives which reduce crime and give our youth purpose and experience that will assist them not only as children but for their professional and public life,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura.
“This is a great initiative that provides community engagement and outreach to juveniles. From a criminal justice standpoint, it helps divert juveniles away from criminal paths and mentors them to become productive members of the community. From an economic perspective, it will help fill staffing shortages within our community businesses and help underprivileged families earn extra income. This bill will integrate juveniles with the community and will instill a sense of pride, which will ultimately help to reduce juvenile crime rates,” said Chief George Ricci, Bloomfield Police Department.
“For many young people, the best Summer program is a job. The best mental health program is a job. The best criminal justice diversion program is a job. The best violence prevention program is a job. Keeping our young people engaged in civic and economic life is essential to their well-being, as well as great preparation for adulthood. A job is the perfect vehicle to accompany the majority of our youth through the storms of adolescence, and ensure they remain healthy,” said Robert N. Davison, MA, LPC, CEO of the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris.
“An investment in young people is an investment in our future and to strengthen New Jersey communities. That’s why NewBridge has been providing career-building services to out-of-school youth for more than 40 years,” said Michelle Borden, CEO of NewBridge Services. “Summer employment opportunities have been proven to change lives and reduce criminal activity among youths. Congresswoman Sherrill’s legislation is forward-thinking, sets kids up for success, and will help break down barriers and inequities for kids who need it most.”
The Strengthening Communities through Summer Employment Act will create a new competitive grant program within the Department of Labor to fund Summer Youth Employment Program operators. Funded programs will be required to match participating young people with an employer based on the needs of the employers and skills and interests of the youth; provide coaching and mentoring services and job readiness supports such as career counseling and digital literacy training to youth participants; and partner with a research organization to conduct a rigorous evaluation of the program.
This legislation will also provide competitive grants to Summer Youth Employment Program operators to develop and implement innovative approaches to subsidized summer employment that are not already used by existing programs but show promise in improving economic and criminal justice outcomes for youths, such as individualized and high-dosage mentoring; job training, resume development, and financial literacy classes; and mental health and substance abuse supports where needed.
Summer Youth Employment Programs have been successfully implemented in a number of cities and towns across New Jersey. Essex County and Morris County both operate youth employment programs to help young people gain workforce skills, while Newark’s program has been significantly scaled up in recent years to serve over 3,000 young people annually.
Nationwide, Summer Youth Employment Programs have demonstrated significant promise in reducing violent crimes across several rigorous evaluations:
- Chicago’s youth summer jobs program reduced violent crime arrests among participants by 45%, leading to a benefit-cost ratio of as much as 11 to 1;
- Boston’s youth summer jobs program reduced violent crime arrests among participants by 35% and property crime arrests by 57%; and
- New York City’s youth summer jobs program reduced felony arrests among participants by 23% and felony convictions by 38%.