NAACP Supports White House Initiative to Increase Summer Jobs for Youth

Earlier this month, Dedrick Muhammad, Senior Director of Economic Programs, along with Benjamin Todd Jealous, President  & CEO of NAACP and Hilary Shelton, V.P. of Policy and Advocacy, participated in an all day summit on youth jobs at the White House.  Corporate and nonprofit leaders, celebrities including Jon Bon Jovi and Andre Harrell, and White House officials like Valerie Jarrett, also joined the discussion which focused on improving youth employment as it is a critical element of success for young people and a predictor of their success in the future. Summer employment is one pathway to building a meaningful career as it not only helps young people develop workforce and leadership skills to get and keep good jobs, but it also connects them to long term economic opportunity.  Unfortunately, since the early 2000’s, there has been a dramatic decline in the ability of youth to find work and in this weakened economy, youth employment rates have been at historic lows (youth unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression).  Only 45 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed the end of August 2011, including only 33.8 percent of African American youth. In the absence of summer youth employment, young people reported that they are competing with more experienced adult workers for jobs or doing nothing productive over their summer breaks; and consequentially, many of their potential contributions to society are going unrealized.

Fortunately, The White House is launching Summer Jobs+, a new call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. President Obama proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. President Obama states, “America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job.  It’s important for their future, and for America’s.” The Administration also announced its intention to launch, within 60 days, the Summer Jobs+ Bank, a one-stop search tool for youth to access postings for any participating employers seeking to reach them where they are online. The link to the website will also be available on the NAACP Economic Department’s website,, once it becomes available.

The NAACP Economics department looks forward to advancing some of the initiatives discussed at the Summit as we recognize these job programs as a great way to engage teens in meaningful service to the public and develop workplace skills and competencies that they can apply now and in the future. Participating companies and organizations include: The American Association of People with Disabilities, AT&T, Bank of America, Baxter International Inc., Bender Consulting Services, Inc., The Camber Corporation, CenturyLink, The Corporation for National and Community Service, CVS Caremark, Deloitte, The Department of Agriculture, The Department of Health and Human Services, The Department of the Interior, The DirectEmployers Association, The Department of Health and Human Services, The Department of the Interior, Discovery Communications, Easter Seals, Expeditors, Gap Inc., General Dynamics C4 Systems, Goodwill Industries International, H-E-B, J.B. Hunt Transport, Jamba Juice, JPMorgan Chase, LinkedIn, ManpowerGroup, Operation HOPE, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Starbucks Coffee Company, State Street Corporation, Syracuse University, The McGraw-Hill Companies, UPS, Viacom, We Are Golf, Wells Fargo and United Way Worldwide.