TEMPLE HILLS — Applications for the county’s Summer Youth Enrichment Program (SYEP) opened for the 2019 session on Feb. 1, and through various outreach efforts, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has significantly increased enrollment by nearly doubling the number of youths applying to the program.
The SYEP was created in 2012 to provide an opportunity for young people throughout the county to participate in career development, life-skills training and summer employment opportunities.
“It’s grown steadily…It received an achievement award for the National Association of Counties, so it’s a successful program and a tool that we have available to us to also help us prepare the workforce,” Alsobrooks said. “So this is something that we’re doing not only to invest in kids, but we believe that eventually, we are preparing a pipeline of young people who can contribute to the workforce.”
As part of her vision to increase educational opportunities for the county’s youth, Alsobrooks wanted be able to reach more people than ever this year and through extensive marketing and enlisting increased involvement with the business community, the SYEP has received over 1,700 applications, already outpacing the number received in the first week of last year’s application period.
A collaboration between a number of county agencies such as Prince George’s Community College, Greater Prince George’s County Business Roundtable, Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, Prince George’s County Public Schools, The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Prince George’s County Government and a variety of nonprofits, young people can be eligible for job readiness training and summer employment.
The Youth@Work Job Readiness Training portion of the program involves a 32-hour training course, 24 hours in-person and eight hours online, where inexperienced employees receive instruction for long-term career success. It focuses on the seven essential skills of attitude, appearance, appreciation, accountability, attendance, ambition and acceptance.
As for job placement, participants can apply for six-week, entry-level work experience in private businesses, non-profits organizations and county government. These can include accounting/budget, clerical/office professional, animal services, custodial/facilities maintenance, engineering, government/political science, health care, hospitality, human resources and more.
For this year’s program, Alsobrooks has made a number of changes to expand opportunities and bring in more participants.
“The first thing is we’ve expanded the capacity for the program,” Alsobrooks said.
“We’ve increased the enrollment this year from 3,000 to 6,000 youths. So we’re doubling the number that we can take into the program, and the other two things that we’re doing is that we’ve expanded the age range, so we are now taking 14- to 22-year-olds as well to make sure that we can accommodate more age ranges, and the third thing that we’re doing is we’re removing an important restriction that we had which disallowed a child who had been in the program two times from applying a third time.
“This time, you could have been in the program for two prior years, but you are still eligible to apply again. So we’re really just trying to accommodate as many youth as we can.”
There will be two application fairs where people can apply in person and receive assistance from county staff members. The first application fair took place on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills.
“I hope it will help me to get ready for real work when I graduate college and help me to get a job,” said Miles Green, 15, who attended the application fair.
Jacquan Anderson, 15, said his mom found the program and encouraged him to apply. In addition to having a job for the summer, Anderson hoped it would give him an opportunity “to get out of the house more and talk to other people.”
Ebony Jordan, from Glenn Dale, brought her daughter Jada who will be going to college soon. Jordan wanted to get her signed up to make sure she could get job experience as well as extra change for when she left in the fall.
“I hope it will help with job skills in the future,” Jordan said. “I have four other kids, and I want to get them acclimated with different jobs.”
Alsobrooks said that, overall, she hopes the SYEP can teach everyone who participates the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.
“They will learn skills such as how to communicate with their colleagues, how to resolve conflict, they’ll learn the importance of coming to work on time and work etiquette.
“I hope that this will not only engage our kids over the summer but will encourage them. Also, some of them will land in offices that they will find is the place they want to work later on in life.”
The second application fair will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Shabach Ministries Inc./First Baptist Church of Glenarden from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The last day to submit applications to the SYEP is March 22.