More jobs for Indy’s teens with federal grant

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- On Wednesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett is set to make an announcement about his summer jobs plan. It is likely to detail, in part, how the city’s partner agencies will use a federal grant to give more job opportunities to the city’s young people.

“My first thing was to jump up and give a high five to the nearest person because it’s very exciting,” said Tammie Barney, Executive Director of Teenworks.

Barney’s organization is one of about a dozen that will share $2 million the city received Monday from the White House and Department of Labor.

She already has plans to use the money to increase the number of teens they can give jobs.

“Last summer, Teen Works employed 254 students,” said Barney. “This year, we’re going to employ 350. Next summer, because it’s a two-year grant, we’re looking at 100 more jobs.”

The focus of Mayor Hogsett’s plan is the kids living in five neighborhoods where, overall, incomes are low and crime is high. Those include, IndyEast Promise Zone, Martin Luther King, Martindale-Brightwood, Far Eastside and Butler-Tarkington neighborhoods.

“One thing we hear is that we need to put money in these kids’ pockets to keep them off the streets and keep them out of nefarious activities,” said Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association President Clark Kirkman.

Kirkman is a firm believer that crime will go down, when more kids feel they have a future.

“You know, the only way to get at the root cause of crime is to provide a quality education and to provide some good job opportunities, so that is one step in that direction,” said Kirkman.

Barney believes this grant could be a launching pad for a sustainable program in the city, as Mayor Hogsett envisions.

Federal money, she says, makes it easier to attract local donations and partners to keep the program growing until every kid who wants a job in Indianapolis has one.

“We have a two-year window to really create something significant and that’s what Teenworks is going to focus on,” said Barney.

Kids who get jobs through one of the partner agencies will work 20-32 hours a week and for $8 an hour.

The mayor’s goal is to employ 4,000 youth and young adults over summer break by 2019.