By Peter Feuerherd
An increase in the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) will be felt this year at Catholic Charities’ Alianza program in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan.
More investment in the program from the city, according to Monique Myers, Director of Youth Employment Programs for Alianza, is creating an uptick in participation. An increase in the age of those eligible from 21 to 24 will also expand participation.
“What does it mean to work?” Monique said, is the question addressed by the program, which this year runs from July 5 through Aug. 19.
This summer 2,200 young people will participate in the Alianza portion of SYEP, an increase of 10 percent over 2021. Mayor Eric Adams has touted youth summer employment as a way to address violence in the city and, with the city council, has increased funding with a goal of reaching 100,000 total young people across a wide array of community agencies, including Catholic Charities.
Mayor Eric Adams has touted youth summer employment as a way to address violence.
Older youth in the program, those ages 16 and above, work in summer camps, offices of local community officials, and in retail outlets such as CVS, McDonald’s, and UPS. Monique herself worked as an SYEP youth for Alianza in 2013 before taking on a full-time role with the agency.
With younger students, those ages 14 and 15, the focus will be on job preparation skills, said Monique. Lessons will include budgeting and ways to navigate the city’s transit system. SYEP students begin the program with a $700 stipend for the summer.
Youth will also learn about wider issues, said Monique.
“We need them to be continually engaged in their community,” she said, citing a program on mental health that will be part of this year’s program. Youth will be taught how to discover mental health concerns in their own lives as well as how to reach out to community resources. They will also learn about voter registration, public speaking skills, and financial planning and participate in community events such as yoga, park cleanups, and providing food for the homeless.