Youth Ambassadors Lobby for SYEP Funding in Albany

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On Tuesday, January 28, youth advocates from The Children’s Aid Society attended the Campaign for Summer Jobs’ 15th Annual Youth Action Day in Albany. Youth Action Day is a lobbying initiative which brings together lawmakers with youth to discuss the positive impact of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and press for more funding.

In the current 2013-14 State budget, $25 million was included for SYEP, including $13.5 million for New York City’s SYEP. While this funding supported over 9,300 teens statewide with a summer job in 2011, it was 70% of the amount SYEP received at its peak. In 2014, the New York State minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $8.00, this increase will result in a loss of 3,705 slots to SYEP in NYC if funding is not increased. Governor Andrew Cuomo has allotted an additional $2.5 million for SYEP in his executive budget; however, we need New York State to restore SYEP funding to $35 million in the 2014-15 State budget in order to maintain a level number of slots for the summer of 2014.

Children’s Aid Society youth advocates hailed from Bronx community school, Fannie Lou Hamer High School and from the Hope Leadership Academy community center in East Harlem. The day kicked off with a rally in the State Capitol Well which included youth speeches and performances and remarks from elected officials. Speaker Sheldon Silver of the New York State Assembly addressed the group and vowed to keep SYEP in the state budget because of its positive effects on New York City’s youth. Other highlights of the day included Fannie Lou’s very own district representative, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo. Assemblyman Crespo spoke to the youth about the importance of voting and being an advocate. He also took our group on a special tour of the Chambers. Assemblyman Jose Rivera was gracious enough to share a little of his personal history and spoke about different policy issues. Youth Action Day was a success and our young people made their voices heard loud and clear in Albany.