July 8, 2024

Picente Kicks Off 2024 Summer Youth Employment Program

News Photo

The 2024 Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) kicked off its 2024 season today with an expanded Work Readiness Day at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, which included educational sessions on youth violence, mental health and substance use.

“When we began planning months ago for our annual SYEP Work Readiness Day, we thought it was important to expand the event beyond the usual logistics of the program and address several key issues that have been impacting our youth more frequently, including violence, mental health and substance use,” Picente said. “These vital discussions couldn’t be more timely in light of the tragic officer-involved shooting death in Utica that recently touched so many aspects of our community.”

Following a welcome by Picente and other local officials, SYEP participants attended educational breakout sessions throughout the day and were provided with crucial information on the topics of youth violence, mental health, substance use and life skills that were presented by the Oneida County Probation, Social Services, Health, Mental Health and STOP-DWI departments and District Attorney’s Office, as well as ICAN, the Center for Family Life and Recovery, On Point for College, MVCC and Berkshire Bank.

The traditional program orientation also took place, as the 14-18 year-old participants were prepared for their summer employment. This year, approximately 400 youth will be placed at work sites around the county to beautify parks and recreation centers, plant community gardens and help operate community programs serving children.

“The Summer Youth Employment Program is a chance for local at-risk youth to seize a new opportunity and move toward a prosperous future,” Picente said. “Our program places these young people at hands-on sites to develop teamwork, communication and critical thinking skills and it prepares them to become productive employees with thriving careers.”

Most youth in the Summer Youth Employment Program work about 20 hours per week over four to six weeks. To be eligible, they must be between the ages of 14 and 18 and meet certain income criteria. The program is supported by funding from New York State.

This year’s work sites include Adirondack Central School, 50 Forward Mohawk Valley, Johnson Park Center, Root Farm, Midtown Utica Community Center, Municipal Housing Authority in Utica, Resource Center for Independent Living and Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency.

“The Summer Youth Employment Program provides young people with meaningful work experience and also helps them earn money their families can use,” said Oneida County Workforce Development Director David Mathis. “This program makes a difference in the lives of the teenagers who will be the backbone of our community and our workforce.”

Oneida County Partners