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Courtney announces youth summer jobs program

June 21, 2013
In The News

June 21, 2013
New London Day
Lee Howard

More than 400 local youths will be placed in jobs throughout the region this summer thanks to a program coordinated by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney announced Friday. "Bravo to everyone who is contributing to this," Courtney said during a press conference at the Courtyard by Marriott Norwich. John Beauregard, executive director of the Franklin-based workforce investment board, said the six- to seven-week program will pump $500,000 into the local economy through payroll earnings of youths. He said the program also will teach young people who might never have secured a summer position some of the key skills they will need later on. Seeing how classroom learning applies to real life can be motivational as well, he added.

"This is about our economic competitiveness," Beauregard said. The program is funded by a coalition of groups, including eight local philanthropic and nonprofit organizations that announced Thursday donations and hiring contributions totaling $52,500. The organizations were the Liberty Bank Foundation, Dominion Resources, Dime Bank Foundation, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut, Sea Research Foundation and People's United Community Foundation.

Funding also comes from the state general fund, federal aid for Superstorm Sandy and corporate giving. "This is really important - to get these kids on the job," said Sue Murphy, executive director of the Liberty Bank Foundation. Irving Eggleston, an 18-year-old Norwich resident who graduated from East Lyme High School last year, said he applied skills he learned during the program to a teaching assistant position at Nichols College. "Without it, I don't know where I'd be," he said at the conference. Last year, 1,040 youths between ages 14 and 20 applied for employment through the program. Four hundred and seventy-five were accepted.

Youths eligible are from New London and Windham counties as wells as five other towns in Tolland County. The New London Office of Youth Affairs, Norwich Youth & Family Services and EASTCONN help identify teens eligible for the program. Michelle Landry, career development programs manager at
 Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, said the program helps instill a good work ethic and pointed out that she turned away a youth worker last year who showed up late with an attitude. Most, however, exhibit a refreshing eagerness to experience what it's like to have a real job, Landry said. "They just have the enthusiasm and willingness to go out there and be the best employee they can possibly be," she said.