Houston joins initiative to increase equity in higher education, employment

The National League of Cities (NLC) selected Houston as one of six cities that will take part in a two year project to explore and build equitable pathways to postsecondary and workforce success. The mayors of each participating city have made a commitment to increasing access and decreasing barriers that prevent youth from succeeding in higher education and gaining meaningful employment. Houston’s efforts will focus on the Hire Houston Youth (HHY) program.

“Workforce programs and summer employment can decrease the likelihood that a youngster will drop out of school, they help ensure we have an able and ready workforce and set youth on the path to long-term careers,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.  “Despite these benefits, less than a third of American teenagers held a job last summer and their participation in the workforce is at an historic low. This year’s goal is to provide 5,000 summer jobs for local youth. I’m calling on our business community to help us get to this goal by hiring and paying a HHY summer applicant. If you don’t have a spot, you can pledge $2,500 to sponsor a youth’s salary, training and benefits at a government agency or a nonprofit organization.”

HHY provides local youth ages 16-24 with at least a seven week summer job or internship experience from mid-June through the first week of August.  In preparation for job placement, applicants will attend workforce readiness training one week prior to their start date.  Students will work up to 40 hours a week for seven weeks, earning at least $8 an hour.  The program is part of the mayor’s vision to create complete communities in historically underserved neighborhoods.

Cities are the economic engines of our nation. In understanding this role as economic drivers, mayors and other city partners – including representatives from city workforce, economic development and education – will be working together to ensure access to education and employment for all citizens with the ultimate goal of building vibrant local economies. To reach this goal, cities need clear pathways to college and postsecondary programs that are responsive to regional workforce needs. The value of a college educated community brings both personal and city-wide benefits.

Through its Institute for Youth, Education, and Families and with support from The Kresge Foundation, and LinkedIn, NLC will bring together city leaders from the government, education and business sectors and national experts that will help Houston develop strategies and expand the city’s efforts. The city will also have access to labor market trends in hiring as well as insights on education pathways and key skill sets leading to employment from LinkedIn.

The six cities chosen to participate as NLC cohort include Austin, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; Corpus Christi, Texas; Houston, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.