Some of the first dollars from the massive federal stimulus package should start showing up in Spokane soon, with $1.5 million targeted toward providing summer jobs and training for low-income teens and young adults.
The money should put 400 young people to work at mostly minimum-wage jobs through September, as well as paying for staffers to run the program, officials said Thursday at a press conference. The stimulus money will pay the wages, but organizers are looking for businesses to take on and train the workers.
“What we need is help from the business leaders in the community,” said John Serben, chairman of the youth council for the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council.
About 70 work sites are already signed up, including positions within governments and nonprofit organizations, but more are needed, organizers said. The money was awarded to the Workforce Development Council, and the program will be operated by the Spokane Workplace Consortium and the Next Generation Zone, a youth employment program that includes participation from several agencies and organizations.
Cami Hanson, chief operating officer for Career Path Services, said the program is targeted at low-income residents of Spokane County, ages 16 to 24, for internships between now and September. Participants will be given a variety of job-skills training, in addition to the work experience.
“Its specific intent is to get youth and young adults work experience, put a paycheck in their pockets, and then they’ll spend that money,” Hanson said.
Program organizers also hope it might lead to some full-time jobs.
Kristine Jangula, a 20-year-old homeless woman who was at the Next Generation Zone offices Thursday, would like to get some of the help the program is offering. She’s tried without success to land a steady job in recent years, and said that her options for office work – her preference – are slim. “It’s hard out there,” she said.