Many good NL teens won't get summer jobs

Something unexpected happened this week. At 2:15 Monday afternoon my office had a line of 60 New London teens at its door. This was the first day we were accepting applications for the summer jobs program and they were ready.

This is significant for 2 reasons:

First, it demonstrates what a vital program this is. In this economy, teens are often the last to get hired. And yet we know that it's critical for young people to develop work experience early.

The second point is this: These applicants are the same New London teens who are so often targeted by negative stereotypes. I work with youth in New London and a story I often hear is: "I need a job because I live with my grandmother and she's struggling to pay the rent."

We all know that parents are struggling. The less told story is that there are many hard working, responsible New London teens out there wanting to work to help feed their families. By 4:30 we had processed 100 applications. Funding pending, we hope to hire slightly over 100 teens. With four remaining weeks to apply, what do you suggest we tell the rest?

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