New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Bill Chong announced that applications are open for the 2016 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) from Tuesday, March 1 through Friday, April 15, 2016. SYEP is the nation’s largest summer youth employment initiative, and since 1963 has provided New York City young people between the ages of 14 and 24 with up to six weeks of entry-level experience at worksites in all five boroughs. Participants are selected by lottery for the program, which runs from July 5 through August 13.

“The Summer Youth Employment Program has become a rite of passage for many New Yorkers who got their first job though the program and have moved on to successful careers,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong. “My first job and love of public service are the result of SYEP, which taught me work ethic and positively affected the career choices I have made. Through SYEP, younger youths and those who have never worked before learn the importance of showing up on time and working with other people. For older teens and young adults, it’s about lining up the work experience and careers in which they are interested.”

“Summer affords a critical opportunity for students to get hands-on experience, cultivate their skills needed to succeed in the workplace, and identify their interests. This program offers a wonderful opportunity for teens to gain the tools needed to succeed after graduation,” said NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “This is a great way for students to stay engaged and keep learning during the summer months, and I strongly encourage them to apply.”

“Providing NYC youth with a summer job or internship doesn’t just open a door of opportunity—it also strengthens the homegrown talent pool from which employers can hire. It is a critical way that we can prepare our youth, our businesses and our City to compete in the 21st century economy,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, senior advisor to the Mayor and director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships. “We urge young people across our City to take a valuable first step toward a successful career by applying to the Summer Youth Employment Program this year. And we ask employers across our City to get in touch with the NYC Center for Youth Employment to learn how they can support these young workers today—and help build the workforce of tomorrow.”

Young New Yorkers who have benefited from this employment program.

Young New Yorkers who have benefited from this employment program.

“Last year, our Center for Youth Employment was proud to help DYCD in offering a record number of summer jobs and internships through SYEP. This summer, we’re aiming to build on that success and continue our system’s growth toward supporting 100,000 youth work opportunities per year across all programs serving youth,” said David Fischer, executive director of the NYC Center for Youth Employment. “In addition to creating more opportunities, our commitment is to craft work experiences that both provide immediate value to both youth and employers, and put our young people on a path toward sustained employment and career success.”

As part of the effort to reach as many young people, families and employers as possible, DYCD has partnered with the star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Daymond John. The entrepreneur has recorded public service announcements (links at bottom of this press release) to engage youth and increase employment opportunities for young people in the private sector. John grew up in Hollis, Queens, and was an SYEP participant in the 1980s.

“Getting your foot in the door at a young age and being heard is the first step in business. It played an important role in my professional growth, but more importantly as person,” said Daymond John. “That is why I joined forces with DYCD and their program. It is an amazing entry point for New York City youth to get involved in business and discover themselves in ways they have not imagined.”

SYEP participants are compensated for their work at thousands of diverse worksites, including government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, law firms, museums, sports enterprises and retail. Specialized programming for disabled, foster care, runaway/homeless and court-involved young people are also available. SYEP also offers workshops on job readiness, career exploration and financial literacy, and opportunities to continue education and social growth. Ladders for Leaders is an employer-paid internship component of SYEP for youth aged 16-22.

“The Summer Youth Employment Program was an important outlet for me as a teenager eager to gain some work experience at a young age. It set a precedent for me that resonates till this day with my chosen career path,” said Riggs Morales, Atlantic Records VP of A&R and Artist Development. “SYEP provided me with the type of work experience that prepared me for the bigger job opportunities that were soon to come as a teenager gearing up for the future. It’s an important entry point for anyone interested in developing strong, long term work ethic.”

“SYEP gave me my first introduction into the workforce at the tender age of 14. This program helped me build key experiences and skills that were important as a young adult for my resume,” said Patricia Robinson, Director of Operations, Emmis Communications/Hot 97, WBLS, WLIB. “If it weren’t for SYEP, I would not have challenged my own potential. I hold SYEP in very high regards, and will continue to advocate its importance to workforce development.”

Last May, Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City launched the NYC Center for Youth Employment, a public-private initiative charged with helping to expand the City’s employment services for young New Yorkers, including SYEP. The Center for Youth Employment’s specific goal is to support 100,000 unique work-related experiences each year, including high-quality summer jobs, career exposure, skills-building, and supportive mentorships, by 2020. In collaboration with City agencies, employers and other stakeholders, the Center for Youth Employment is focused on increasing private sector involvement in these programs as well as evaluating the City’s youth workforce system as a whole, with an eye toward expanding effective programs and filling in gaps.

Last summer, a record 54,263 young people were employed in more than 9,000 worksites throughout the five boroughs. With the support of the Center for Youth Employment, the City more than doubled the number of Ladders for Leaders internships (1,035) and opportunities for young people who are homeless, court-involved or in foster care (2,078). Through first-time partnerships with companies like AOL, Pandora and Medidata, more than 200 Ladders for Leaders positions were created in the tech industry, up from just 44 slots in 2014.

Studies show that SYEP improves school attendance, offers new skills, reduces incarceration rates and keeps teens and young adults safe—including youth who wouldn’t otherwise have access to paying jobs.

Youth can apply online or at a participating community-based organization during the application period. Worksites interested in providing jobs have until Friday, May 13, 2016 to apply. Online applications for both are available on the DYCD website. Updates will also be posted to DYCD’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites. For more information, call 311 or DYCD Youth Connect (1-800-246-4646).

Employers looking to support New York City’s youth employment programs, including SYEP, should go to the Center for Youth Employment’s website. Interested employers can also email the Mayor’s Fund at fund@cityhall.nyc.gov for more information.

View Dayond John’s SYEP Youth PSA.

View Daymond John’s SYEP Employer PSA.

View or download the 2015 SYEP Annual Summary.