The success of the City’s Summer Training and Enrichment Program (STEP) has gained the attention of U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott. MaRhonda Echols, City of Newport News’ Youth Gang and Violence Prevention Coordinator, was invited by Scott to join other youth advocates from around the country in a panel discussion last week in Washington DC.
The topic of the discussion was Opening Doors For Youth: Improving Outcomes for At-Risk and Opportunity Youth. The discussion was designed to help push the Opening Doors for Youth Act of 2016 (House Bill #6117), a bill proposed by Scott to help connect youth to education and early work experiences allowing them to successfully transition into the labor market.
The panel discussed the roots of youth disconnection in the work force, preventing and intervening in disconnection, and improving labor market outcomes for at-risk and opportunity youth. Echols shared the outcomes of the City’s STEP program as well as discussed the City’s effort to partner with community institutions such as schools, workforce development providers, and youth programs. Echols also discussed ways to engage local businesses as employers for young people.
If passed, the Opening Doors for Youth Act of 2016 would authorize funding in the form of grants to help provide summer employment and year-round employment for young people ages 14-24 who are both in school and out of school. The Act will also help communities with high rates of youth disconnected from the workforce by providing grants to community partners who develop opportunities to help youth transition from school into the workforce. Read the Act here
and to learn more about it visit Youth Today
Established in 2014, STEP is one component of the Building Better Futures - Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Initiative to increase positive outcomes for youth and young adults between the ages of 16 to 24. The 10-week summer program provides meaningful work readiness training offers participants paid work experience, workshops, financial literacy, and GED preparation classes. For more information on STEP, visit the Youth and Gang Violence Prevention website