About Youth Employment Summer

New York City’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has included a rapid transition to remote learning. Complicated and varied across a huge education system, there is a need to systematically address young people’s needs at all ages of development–infants and toddlers, pre-K, elementary and middle school students, and teens and young adults. 

In the context of a new reality of providing early work experiences for teens during Summer 2020, more than 50 nonprofits and CBOs have come together with energy and imagination to ensure that as many teens as possible have high quality experiences. Convinced that Summer 2020 represents an opportunity to re-inspire NYC’s young people, this group, coming together under the name Youth Empowerment Summer, or YES, have affirmed their commitment to and alignment with the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The effort is led by the Yes Coordinating Committee, which includes ExpandED Schools and Beam Center

Since early April, in collaboration with 50+ organizations including large SYEP Providers, YES has been designing an infrastructure of support for virtual work-based/project-based experiences. YES has raised private funds to support SYEP Providers by: 

  • Coordinating and hosting live online career-oriented events accessible to all SYEP participants
  • Designing and coordinating online workplace challenges with employers in multiple sectors
  • Matching SYEP Providers and their staff to partner organizations that can host online work-based/project-based experiences from 4 to 45 hours in duration
  • Matching SYEP Providers and their staff to partner organizations that can provide curriculum and training in multiple subject areas including STEAM Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, Science, Technology and much more
  • Documenting and evaluating this summer’s experience to learn from and respond to the new realities faced by youth and the ecosystem that supports them
  • Supporting the provision of up to 900 digital devices to SYEP participants who do not currently have them

YES is focused on supporting early work experiences that promote:

  • Connections to professionals – experiences that assist young people to pursue their interests through supportive adult relationships that build social capital and professional connections
  • Career explorations – engaging opportunities for students to root their experience in a career path and explore their relationship to it
  • Authentic work experiences  – projects that allow for youth-led problem solving (where their vision is centered) as well as directive-driven work (where youth are working to interpret another’s vision)
  • Socio-emotional learning (SEL) supports – experiences that meet where young people are, taking into account the effects of grief and lived experiences during the pandemic (e.g., aligning curriculum or learning model to specific SEL framework or core principles)
  • Skills-building – experiences that build, name and develop skills, inclusive of durable skills (e.g., collaboration, communication) and/or industry standard credentialing

About Hive NYC Learning Network

Hive NYC Learning Network, a member-led collective of over 70 informal education organizations focused on innovation in digital learning, has been creating networked learning opportunities across youth-serving organizations in New York City for over a decade. With many of its members long-involved in summer youth employment initiatives, the network has a deep and vested interest in ensuring that YES is successful, that participating organizations are able to do their best work, and, most importantly, that the city’s youth thrive as best they can during the summer of 2020.

In partnership with YES, Hive NYC is providing a networked learning infrastructure for the educators and institutions that are part of the YES ecosystem during the Summer of 2020, with a focus on three functions:

  • Connect – Strong partnerships among educational organizations are always a key factor for all actors to successfully implement their youth service programs, and is even more important this summer. Hive NYC is creating mechanisms that support participating organizations to ‘match’ with one another based on the kinds of programs they’re attempting to put in place. 
  • Convene – Hive NYC’s convenings support real-time sharing of the approaches that YES partners and SYEP providers are taking, the challenges they are facing, and the needs they have in the context of remote summer youth employment efforts. 
  • Curate – Hive NYC is curating open content portal that streamlines discovery and usability of YES partner content, making it viable for curricula to be easily incorporated into summer programs.

About YES Research & Documentation

This year’s YES2020 program is introducing new ideas and creating an opportunity to learn from design and implementation approaches when it comes to youth early work, not only during the rapid response context that is Summer 2020, but also more generally. It’s critical for the field to capture and document these shifts in a way that sheds light on what’s both novel and worth building on in the future, and what areas require attention and improvement. 

In adapting to the current remote reality, educators are implementing new, innovative program designs aimed at creating maximally engaging online summer work experiences for young people. There will also undoubtedly be challenges, foreseen and unforeseen, around migrating to a fully remote summer work experience so quickly.  

Beyond that, organizations involved in summer youth employment are, through YES, coming together as a collective in rapid response to a new reality. They are organizing, learning, and coordinating across the entire ecosystem of actors involved in youth employment in ways that are novel, and worth understanding. 

The YES Research and Documentation team, led by Student Success Network and Telos Learning, is working to capture both the nature of emerging program designs for youth as well as the networked organizational learning and coordination among actors in the YES and SYEP ecosystem. The team’s goal is to not only inform YES stakeholders, but also the broader youth development field in New York City and nationally as we enter a time when many organizations are migrating to remote programming and remote work, or even blended in-person and online models, for the foreseeable future.