Still on the Job For the City of Baltimore

Part I of a two-part series on YouthWorks. Founded in 1973, this year marks the 50th Anniversary of YouthWorks.  

   In 1973, the late former mayor of Baltimore William Donald Schafer, started Blue Chip-In, a summer job program for youth. Now known as YouthWorks, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the program. YouthWorks has provided employment to thousands of youth since its inception, who include Baltimore City Mayor Brandon M. Scott.

“The impact of any long-standing initiative in a city the size of Baltimore that is over half a century long is immeasurable,” said Dr. S. Rasheem, Senior Program Manager for YouthWorks.  “We could measure it in the amount of funds paid out to youth in wages. We could measure it in the number of families that have participated in YouthWorks over generations. We could measure it in the number of careers it contributed to launching. We could measure it in the number of youth that made a long-standing meaningful connection with a caring adult. Any one of these measures would only tell part of the story of what a staple YouthWorks is in adding value in the City of Baltimore.” 

YouthWorks provides hands-on training, hourly pay and more.
Photo Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles

 According to YouthWorks, Baltimore’s youth employment rate of 14.6%, stands as one of the highest among major metro areas. YouthWorks recently kicked-off its Baltimore Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) to help address youth poverty and unemployment in the city. Over the last 10 years, YouthWorks has offered over 80,000 summer jobs to Baltimore youth. 

 “In general, the goal is to collaborate with youth and employers to create a meaningful paid employment opportunity that enhances youth job skills,” said Dr. Rasheem.“But Youthworks is so much more than that. Youthworks educates, employs, and empowers youth. Our education focus is on job readiness, financial literacy and exposure to future career possibilities.”

YouthWorks is a program within the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Youth Services Division. The program provide a five-week job opportunity to thousands of Baltimore City young people between the ages of 14 to 21. This year, summer employers range from Johns Hopkins University to the Baltimore Orioles and students earn $13.25 per hour. 

 “This year, we have been able to offer jobs to nearly 7,900 Baltimore City youth, opening doors to countless opportunities,” said Dr. Rasheem. “This achievement is a testament to the tireless efforts of our dedicated team, the unwavering support of our partners, and the incredible resilience and determination of the youth we serve.”

The program’s partner, JPMorgan Chase, made a $150,000 grant donation to the program. The grant will help 72 students to make the $13.25 hourly pay and work five days a week. Dr. Rasheem said the grant will also support YouthWorks’ first YouthWorks Academy. 

A YouthWorks participant employed with the Baltimore Orioles and Mayor Brandon M. Scott who is a YouthWorks alumnus.
Photo Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles

 “Youthworks Academy is a comprehensive 13-week job readiness and life skills program designed to bridge the gap between the workforce skillsets that a young person brings to the table with those of the needs of the employers for whom we serve,” she said. “Employees who receive such specific and intentional training are often better capable of demonstrating their value to employers, are more likely to be promoted and will find greater satisfaction in their careers. That is the essence of the need that the YouthWorks Academy was designed to address.” 

 JPMorgan Chase, a leading financial services firm, has been supporting Baltimore YouthWorks Summer Youth Employment program for more than five years.  

 “These types of programs are critical to giving young people an opportunity to explore their interests, learn more about the world of work and demystify what takes place in the workplace, said Nadine Duplessy Kearns, Vice President of Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase. 

She added, “They also help prepare them as they go on to jobs, college and careers so that they have this firsthand experience. I think for us, we know that that makes a difference for connecting young people to the world of work. So we’re excited to be a partner, and we are proud of the work that YouthWorks is doing for the young people of Baltimore.”

For more information about YouthWorks, visit 

 Coming Next Week – Part 2: The Employees of YouthWorks and The Program’s Impact On Their Lives. 

Ursula V. Battle
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