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Stl Youth Jobs Program Seeks Funds To Hire More Young People

Maria Altman (St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is asking businesses in the city to help put 500 young people to work this summer through a program called Stl Youth Jobs.

One corporation stepped up Wednesday.

JPMorgan Chase announced a $100,000 donation, and the company is asking other businesses to help.

"It is very important for this city that we build that base, that base of people that understand how to work, love to work and want to be part of this community," said Scott Bush, a managing director and market leader with the firm.

The program, managed by the Incarnate Word Foundation, is aimed at 16- to 23-year olds from high poverty and high crime areas in St. Louis.

It is paid for by a combination of public and private funds, including $200,000 from the city of St. Louis. Mayor Slay says another $70,000 is needed to make the goal of getting 500 young people into summer employment.

"We’re still looking for donations," Slay said. "We want to make sure we have the biggest bang for our buck and that we reach as many youths as we can."

The mayor said the idea came out of the St. Louis Regional Youth Violence Prevention Task Force, which came together in 2012.

"What we’re doing is trying to focus on areas that have a higher level of at-risk youth, so that they’ll have something to do in the summer," he said. "It’ll keep them off the street, put some money in their pocket, and teach them basic life and job skills."

Last summer 200 young people took part in the program. Bridget Flood, executive director of the Incarnate Word Foundation, said about 85 percent of the participants completed the program. Of those, 50 percent went on to find other jobs.

"Our young people want to work," Flood said.

In fact, more than 1,000 people have applied for the 500 positions for this summer. 

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.