500 summer jobs for urban core teens launched as violence prevention tool

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Quinton Lucas wants to hire 500 young people this summer as a crime-fighting tool.

Working For Youth is a partnership with Hire KC, Entrepreneurship KC and KC Common Good, which seeks to train, coach and employ 500 young people who live on the city’s east side.

Five hundred teens are 10% of the population between 14 and 18 who live in some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods.

The idea is for disadvantaged kids to explore careers, get job training and gain internship experience.

The mayor wants the city’s business community to step up to his call, and provide job opportunities for students from the urban core.

“Violent crime is not too big of a problem to be solved,” Lucas said. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to solve it. We need to do the things that we do best.”

This effort is based on a model started in Omaha, Neb.

After the program began there in 2008, high school graduation rates increased by 27%, while violent crime dropped by 74%.

CommunityAmerica Credit Union also is providing financial literacy training for teens in the program.

The program begins in June.

Employers can either offer internship opportunities or sponsor a summer job for eight weeks at a cost of $2,000 per teen.

Local foundations are helping pay for the summer jobs program.

But the $800,000 initiative is not yet fully funded.

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