Upham's Corner Online

Boston Youth Fund - How our Youth Get Summer Jobs

Posted: March 13, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

The Mayor's summer jobs umbrella covers three programs that provide summer youth employment: 
  • ABCD,
  • the Boston Youth Fund and
  • PIC, the Private Industry Council. 
These organizations operate independently targeting different age groups, geographic areas and income requirements.

The Boston Youth Fund (BYF) is part of the bostonyouthzone.com website which provides activities, opportunities, and other fun stuff for kids and teens.  The BYF has been in existence for over 20 years and has developed a proven track record connecting Boston youth with summer employment opportunities (year-round as well).
You might imagine that the Boston youth fund tries to convince as many companies as they can in the City of Boston to hire teens.  But that's not how it works.  
  1. Teens sign up using the Hope Line to enter the summer job pool
  2. Nonprofit organizations apply to the Boston Youth Fund for teen workers
  3. Money comes into the Youth Fund from the state and city
  4. The Boston Youth Fund allocates youth positions (not people) to the worksites
  5. The hiring process begins
  6. Youth work during July and August (six weeks) and are paid by the City of Boston
There are over 300 "worksites" - nonprofit organizations accepted into the Boston Youth Fund program.  All nonprofits that want to be a part of the BYF program must apply individually in January to be approved, indicating the number of positions (min/max) they would like to fill and the nature of the jobs.  The one exception is the GOTCHA program, a collaborative of 15 to 20 nonprofits that focus on summer youth jobs.  While Gotcha submits one application to BYF, each participating nonprofit is reviewed and accepted individually.

Beginning early February for approximately one month (Feb 1 - Mar 3 in 2011), Boston teens age 15, 16 and 17 are encouraged to apply to the Hope Line to be part of the pool of summer job applicants for BYF positions.  Why the term "Hope Line"?  The BYF job registration number, 617-635-4673, spells out the word HOPE.  You can apply to the helpline either via phone or through the Internet.  At the end of the registration period, BYF will know the size of the summer job pool.

BYF likes to think it can plan on the number of positions they can create based on "stable" funding in the month of April but it never quite works out that way.  Funding changes occur throughout the process.  As a result, BYF places youth in jobs through the middle of July.
Upham's Corner News spoke with Jaclynn Knecht, Deputy Director of the Boston Youth Fund.

Q:
Once you know how many positions are assigned to each of the nonprofits, how do the kids get hired?
A:
A very small number of organizations have a specific set of skills they are looking for so, they post additional applications to our website.  Teens can go to the website, review the job requirements and apply online.

They can go to job fairs but only if they find out they exist through various e-blasts.  Anybody who signs up for the Hope Line, we require they have an e-mail address.  The organization holding a job fair is required to send out a notice to all the kids in the job pool.  Also the job fairs are being posted on the BYF website.

In the case of GOTCHA, they send out a blast to everybody who signed up for the Hope Line saying come to the gotcha job fair and fill out an application and get an interview.  Based on the job fair, they are allowed to pick the kids that work for them. 

Finally there is the lottery assignment process.  Some kids find this to be an easier way to get a job because then they don't have to go through the interview process.  For the most part a lot of our jobs are in community centers and YMCAs and Boys and Girls Club's that offer a varying array of the same positions such as camp counselors, or junior lifeguard, things like that.  For those kids we place them through a random lottery.

Youth looking for a summer job need to realize that the Hope Line is not a guarantee to a summer job.  They need to be looking for a job anyway they can.
Q:  Who is the actual employer of the teens?
A:  The City of Boston.  The nonprofit organizations are required to turn in timesheets for the youth in their worksites.  On this basis the city runs the payroll and cuts the checks which are sent out to the worksite.  To obtain their check the Boston Youth Fund teen has to show the ID given to them by the Boston Youth Fund which is a photo ID, and they also have to sign for the check.  
Q:  If there is not enough funding to provide youth for all the jobs requested, how do you allocate the youth among the nonprofits in order to be fair to the nonprofits?  
A:  We ask for a minimum and maximum number of youth that the nonprofit thinks it can handle.  From there we do it on a case-by-case basis.  If we have funding that has come through and we have another group of teens that we can hire, we look at the allocation again.  If the number of teens we gave the nonprofit is less than their minimum number, will call them and ask :  "Are you still interested in having more youth come to your organization?"
Q:  If I am a for-profit company and I want to hire some youth, how would I do that? 
A:  You would have to go to the PIC, Private Industry Council, which covers greater Boston.  But they don't like the kids to travel too far. 
Q:  How many youth signed up by the March 4 deadline and how many positions will you be able to fill?
A:  As of midnight on March 4, 2011 approximately 7400 youth had signed up either through the Hope Line or via the internet at the BYF website.  We are hoping to fill the same number of positions as last year - 3300.


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