On December 5, 2017, Councilmember Silverman introduced legislation to enhance the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) by making life skills a centerpiece of the work experience, ensuring age-appropriate job placements, streamlining the application process, and reserving program slots for older youth who are not in school or working. It is part of her ongoing effort to create career pathways, build a future D.C. workforce that can meet the needs of our high-demand industries and small business employers, and build a strong pipeline for District residents into living wage careers.
The legislation was co-introduced by nine Councilmembers: Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, and At-Large members Robert White, Anita Bonds, and David Grosso. Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie and Chairman Phil Mendelson were co-sponsors.
WHAT THE BILL DOES
As introduced, the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program Enhancement Amendment Act of 2017 proposes strengthening the program in four major areas: soft skills training, age-appropriate site placements, pre-enrollment residency certifications, and program evaluation.
District employers repeatedly say that life skills like showing up on time, dressing appropriately, knowing how to communicate effectively with colleagues, customers, and supervisors, and being resilient are the biggest obstacles to District residents getting hired and keeping a job. These habits are most easily formed when we are young, which makes MBSYEP the perfect program to teach and reinforce these fundamental skills. The legislation makes these skills a foundation of the program and requires assessments for these skills at the program’s beginning and end to determine overall gains.
A new classification system would be implemented to standardize which jobs are age-appropriate for participants. Participants 16 years and older would attend sites that offer traditional, hands-on work experience. Qualifying jobs could include positions in any industry and in non-office settings, such as being a camp counselor, a lifeguard, or a production assistant at a theater. These placements would not include participating in camps, academic programs, or arts programs that do not offer direct work experience.
Participants ages 16 years and older who are already enrolled in a year-round youth workforce program, Summer Bridge, or an academic program like Summer Bridge or Upward Bound would not move from these placements.
Participants 22 to 24 years old disconnected from school and work and holding less than an associate’s degree would be prioritized for placement. All participants disconnected from school and work would also be assessed for and referred to other education, training, and supportive services as needed.
Streamlined Certification Process
To better simplify enrollment for the 12,000-13,000 residents that participate each year, the bill would require the Department of Employment Services (DOES) to automatically certify the age and residency of as many residents as possible. Application deadline extensions would also apply to proof of residency submissions.
In addition to ensuring the program provides ample opportunities to develop and retain necessary job skills, the legislation would require DOES to provide comprehensive data on how participants apply these skills and their MBSYEP experience after the summer ends. The Mayor would then use this data to produce an annual report and contract for an independent evaluation of the program.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How was the bill developed?
This bill was written after an in-depth examination of the MBSYEP 2017 program year, which included data analysis, over 20 host site visits, interviews with host employers and program participants, and meetings with employers and advocates focused on workforce readiness and job training.
Does this bill change who can participate in MBSYEP?
No. The program remains open to youth ages 14-24 years old only. The bill does not cut funding or the number of slots for the program.
Does the bill change how much participants are paid?
Does the bill add any new requirements for host employers?
Yes. The bill would require host site supervisors to complete a brief assessment of their participants’ soft skills at the beginning and end of the program.
When would the proposed changes go into effect?
Many of the new program reporting requirements would take effect in 2018. However, most programmatic changes in the bill would take effect in the 2019 program.
HOW TO STAY ENGAGED
Learn when public meetings are coming up or what you missed at a past hearing: elissasilverman.com/syephearings
Leave comments about MBSYEP for Councilmember Silverman to review: elissasilverman.com/syepcomments