Expensive DC Summer Jobs Program Paying Kids To Take ‘Guerilla Arts’ Classes

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser fought to expand the city’s Summer jobs program to people aged 22 to 24, but it appears those youths may just be taking advantage of the easy money.

At an added cost of around $5 million, the program is supposed to teach these young adults the skills necessary to work in the professional world, but it may be failing that mission, The Washington Post reports.

According to the program’s website, it is designed to help youths “learn and develop the skills, attitudes, and commitment necessary to succeed in today’s world of work” and “gain meaningful work experience,” though some young adults are just sitting in class rooms.


Seventeen year-old Rasheeda Twitty, in her fourth year in the program, said she is being taught social media and performance arts as job training.

“We take SAT classes for work,” she told the Post. “We do that for half the day, and the other half we do ‘guerrilla arts.’ ”

Justin Strange, a 19 year-old who has used the program to find a job for five straight Summers, told the Post the only thing he learned was “how to use his e-mail address.”

“My first two jobs, I didn’t do anything,” he told the paper. “You just sat around and got paid.”

The efficiency of the $17.5 million jobs program, which served 15,000 young people this summer, has been in question for years.

In 2012, former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty opened up the program to anyone who applied, which led to major cost over-runs and a scathing critique from the D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates.

“A clear and targeted mission, vision and outcomes framework are the foundation of any good program and SYEP’s current lack of all three has proved to severely limit DC’s capacity to effectively use youth workforce funding for years,” the group wrote in a statement.

A study from 2010 into benefits of the Summer Youth Employment Program cited exposure to the world of work, career exploration and career planning as positive outcomes, though the D.C. program lacks an outcomes framework that would establish these benefits.

“The city doesn’t know what skills and behaviors are the most important to teach nor have they formulated a mission for the program that would specify which population of young people should be targeted with SYEP,” the alliance wrote.

It appears that not much has changed since 2010, when the report was released. Marcia Huff, a manager at the Young Women’s Project, which employed members of the program this summer, told the Post participants are really just getting six weeks of work.(RELATED: DC Mayor Raising Taxes To Fund Obama Book Club)

“I haven’t seen where the program is used as a launchpad for getting [youths] into a GED or vocational training program,” she said. “That’s what the summer should be used for.”

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