Youth unemployment is a concern for most communities in the United States. Through the One Summer Chicago (OSC) employment/job training program, the city actively ensures youth ages 14-24 will work 20-25 hours a week and receive bi-monthly paychecks. In 2021, the first day on the job for thousands of teens and young adults is July 6.
The program’s success is measured by its increased impact each summer since its inaugural year. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle launched the program in May 2011.
In 2017, Emanuel boasted OSC had hired more than 130,000 youth in a wide range of opportunities during its first 6 years.
When most cities shuddered their job initiative programs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chicago’s leaders refused to deny employment and training opportunities to its underserved youth. Instead, they had to reimagine the programs, according to Chicago Department of Family and Social Services Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler.
They chose to use virtual meeting technologies. As a result, 20,498 young adults and teens worked last summer, thanks to forward-thinking individuals. In 2021, OSC is hybrid offering participants both in-person and online opportunities.
The St. Agatha News School is expecting its largest group of interns since beginning to offer its journalism program through OSC. This year, The News School branched out by including video production internships.
There is more to the initiative than meets the eye as most young people, especially 14 to 16-year-olds, have little to no employment experience. They learn on the job etiquette and responsibilities in a safe environment. Some of the skills they learn will be used throughout their working lives, including the importance of attendance, submitting timesheets or punching a clock, appropriate attire, timely completion of assigned tasks, and more.
OSC continues to grow and adapt to the city’s changing landscape thanks to its partner agencies and ever-growing list of employers and training centers.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
One Summer Chicago: Newsroom
PBS News: The pandemic has created unexpected summer jobs for these young people; by John Yang and Gretchen Frazee
Images Courtesy of Gricelda Chandler – Used With Permission