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Kentuckiana's Summer Youth Jobs Program Credits Private Business For Its Success


Officials say a majority of the 1,500 kids participating in Louisville’s Summer Works program are working with private businesses, which has exceeded the city’s overall goal despite raising less private funds than expected.

The Summer Works program is administered by KentuckianaWorks, which is established under federal law to help job training and placement.This year the program raised $650,000 of its $2 million goal, which helps pay youth ages 16-21 to work public sector and non-profit jobs. But Mayor Greg Fischer says the city also counts jobs from companies that have partnered with the city’s initiative and together the Summer Works program has surpassed its goal of employing 800 kids.“We were short in the cash we raised, but we exceeded the number of [job] placements we had. So we really don’t care whether its cash or placements, what we’re focused on is jobs,” Fischer says.KentuckianaWorks executive director Michael Gritton says the more private businesses that employ youth through the program, the less money the program has to raise.“This year even though we have 1,500 kids working we’ve only got about 120, 130 whose salaries we’re paying for. The rest of those low-income kids are working at employers like Thorntons, and Nortons, and GE and Ford and others who are paying the kids directly,” he says.The summer program run by KentuckianaWorks places youth ages 16 to 21 in both public and private sector jobs. A majority of the job placements, 1,400, were in the private sector, and Fischer is encouraging more businesses to join the 39 that participated this year.KentuckianaWorks has had to fundraise for the program since federal stimulus dollars dried up in 2011. In that first year, KentuckianaWorks helped 220 young people find jobs. Last year, the city met its goal to employ 400 youth and to raise the equivalent of at least $1 million, which includes counting jobs created by the private sector.The amount of money raised this year dropped, but the number of private sector jobs increased.