The Santa Maria Summer Jobs and Beyond Career Pathways for Youth Project (CPY Project) is part of a national initiative that promotes summer and year-round employment for youth. The program is funded thanks to a grant that was awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration to the County of Santa Barbara Workforce Development Board to prepare and connect Santa Maria youth to employment and career opportunities.
“The goal of the CPY program is to partner local industries with Santa Maria valley youth to create a positive experience that would deter them from gangs and violence,” explained Luis Servin, Program Manager for the Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board.
Servin explained that the program was started due to the tremendous increase in homicides among disconnected and gang affiliated youth, ranging from ages 14-24. Many of the murders were youth related involving kids as young as 15 years of age.
“The need for this sort of opportunity for our youth in Santa Maria comes after not only the lack of resources in the community, but also due to the high youth unemployment and high poverty rates,” Servin says. “We can do better for them, and CPY provides that opportunity.”
The program targets groups including youth (in and out-of-school) between the ages of 16-24 with little or no work experience, low income youth, high school drop-outs or in-school youth at-risk of dropping out, and gang-involved youth or those in the juvenile justice system.
The goal is to engage these groups of people by partnering them with local industries that would make a good career path for them, and give them the training and job experience needed to be successful in these industries.
The project began taking applications in September 2016 for its’ first group of students. So far, over 20 youth have already been enrolled and have begun taking part in the CPY program.
“The goal is to hire 260 youth over a two-year time period,” Servin said. “We’ve seen great success with the students so far, and are looking forward to hopefully having an even larger number go through the summer session of our program.”
The enrollment period for the summer 2017 group will begin March 1st and will be looking to take 120 youth, with the program starting March 2017.
In addition to youth participants, the program is looking for local businesses in the Santa Maria area interested in hosting youth for 200 hours of paid work experience. Wages, workers’ compensation and health insurance are all covered by the project. Participants are also provided with supportive services and training prior to placement in order to host a more productive “worker”.
“It really takes partnership and support from the community as a whole to make a program like this successful, and we’ve been pleased with how Santa Maria has engaged with the CPY program so far,” Servin said. “Goals we hope to accomplish by 2017 [are] to have more youth involved in our community, be trained and become work ready while at the same time obtain and retain a job.”
Servin says that the response from participants in the program has been overwhelmingly positive. For him, being able to work with local youth is one of the best parts of being involved in CPY.
“It has been such a rewarding experience working with youth,” Servin says.
“They are all passionate about their career goals and bring such a positive energy to the program. We see them just about on a weekly basis and they come in willing to go the extra mile to complete their enrollment activities and prepare for their work experience.”
Servin says that the program hasn’t only impacted the youth participants, but it’s also been a way for families to bond and reconnect in a positive environment.
“Our program receives a lot of responses from parents as they seek out employment opportunities for their children, and we often get parents attending orientation with their children as well,” he explained. “Having the parents involved in their youth’s program creates a bonding relationship amongst them and creates that trust that might have never been there. At the same time, it gives the parents and the youth something positive to do together.”
The CPY program sees a bright future for it’s program, it’s participants and the local community as a whole.
“What’s great about CPY is that it benefits everyone,” Servin said. “It gives local youth professional opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have had. It gives local businesses a chance to connect with a new workforce and find potential long-term employees, and it really strengthens the Santa Maria community as a whole.”
Local youth interested in participating in CPY and businesses looking to host youth can call Goodwill Industries for more information at (805) 928-5282. Or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also fill out an application on their website at http://www.sbc2csummeryouthemployment.org.
“We can sit on the sidelines as we see our youth being dragged into gangs and violence, or we can invest a little bit of time to mentor our future business leaders,” Servin said. “You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Please support the CPY project.”