July 20, 2023


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Newark, NJ – July 20, 2023 — Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Deputy Mayor of Job Creation and Workforce Development Rahaman Muhammad, Director of Summer Youth Employment Program Tyreek Rolon, and Board of Education Assistant Superintendent Dr. Maria Ortiz held a press conference to spotlight the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) serving youth aged 14-24 today in the Career Technical Education (CTE) Carpentry Workshop at Barringer High School. The school is located at 90 Parker Street, in Newark’s North Ward.

The press conference focused on the achievements of the program’s carpentry apprentices, providing Newark high school youth with training in the field and serving as an entry point into carpentry careers.

“The kids of Newark are always at the center of every initiative Newark embarks on because whatever makes our city stronger bolsters their chance of succeeding here as adults,” said Mayor Baraka. “Today we are focusing on the carpentry industry, as it is the basis for our construction efforts on projects ranging from one-family homes to 45-story apartment complexes. Without our dedicated construction workers, Newark would not be able to continue to rise.”

The participants wore their gear and displayed their equipment and projects at the press conference. Current participants in the program discussed the impact it has had on their lives and their dreams for carpentry as their career.

“We need to change the notion of what constitutes a good job. The skilled trades like carpentry and plumbing are not ‘Alternative Ed.’ They are first rate career pathways that pay top notch wages that provide opportunities to build generational wealth,” said Deputy Mayor Muhammad.

“The Newark Youth One Stop has rolled out the largest and most diverse set of summer work experiences in New Jersey offering exposure to film, virtual reality, sewing, and health technician careers, among others. We hope to capture the imagination of Newark youth and inspire them for a lifetime,” said Mr. Rolon.

Mayor Baraka has built Newark’s summer youth employment program into a national leader while tripling its size through innovative public-private partnerships. The program was highlighted nationally by President Obama’s White House and has hosted conferences for the Cities for Financial Empowerment’s Summer Jobs Connect cohort. Its success emanates from the mayor’s vision of summer youth employment as something much broader than a paycheck.

“The SYEP provides an enriching and unique opportunity for our students to gain essential workplace and life skills,” said Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger Leόn in a statement. “The SYEP is clearly aligned with our high school redesign strategy by allowing students to explore a variety of career paths that will help them understand their career interests, while they are still in high school.”

SYEP assigns enrolled Newark youth to worksites that match their careers of interest as indicated on their applications. The City sought local businesses and organizations to support the program by providing youth with jobs.

In particular, the City connected youth applicants to organizations in the following fields:

·         Arts and Entertainment

·         Child Care

·         Public Safety (including judiciary and legal work)

·         Education

·         Entrepreneurships/Start-ups

·         Green Energy

·         STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

·         Health Care

·         Cosmetology

·         Engineering/Construction

“Providing a path to the middle class for workers has always been the top priority for the Carpenters Union and its tried and true earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program,” said William C. Sproule, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. “The partnership between the City of Newark and the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters to develop the 311 Carpentry Program is creating real opportunity for Newark students. To see 311 continue to grow provides a great sense of pride for our Union and we look forward to the success stories it will bring for these students and Newark in general.”

SYEP participant Veronica Rodriguez, a 12th grader at Barringer High School, says the program has given her the confidence to join the Carpenter’s Union and embark on a career where women of color like her are in the minority. “I am proud to have obtained my OSHA 10 certificate card for occupational safety at the job site,” said Ms. Rodriguez. “I have learned how to work with heavy machinery such as table saws, lifts, nail guns and so many other tools. I have learned how to refurnish wood and how to frame structures. With the money I’ve earned, I was able to pay for my driving lesson, which has enabled me to progress into becoming a responsible driver.”

Another SYEP participant plans to use the skills he has acquired to help built Newark. “I have greatly increase my carpentry and construction skills in framing, drywall installation, CNC router operation, finish carpentry, varnishing, sign construction, soft skills and interactive skills,” said Barringer High School senior Micah “Tiny” Charles. “Carpentry has also opened my eyes to the importance of math, science and all other subjects that we study in school. These events, occasions and memories will always stick with me, along with the bonds that have been forged from sweat and hard work. I am very excited for the next chapters of my life.”

Under the leadership of Mayor Baraka, the number of youth served by this program has tripled. This is made possible by a public-private partnership led by the City of Newark and including the New Jersey Department of Labor and 19 corporate and philanthropic partners.

On behalf of all organizers, participants, and the entire City of Newark, Mayor Baraka extended gratitude and praise to the following partners: Altice; AT&T; Bank of America; Capital One; Citi Foundation; Cities for Financial Empowerment; Edison Properties Newark Foundation; Horizon Foundation; JP Morgan Chase; M&T Bank; the Maher Charitable Foundation; the MCJ Amelior Foundation; New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development; Prudential Foundation; PSEG Foundation; RWJ Barnabas Health; Santander; TD Bank; Victoria Foundation; and Wells Fargo.

For photos, click here.


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