The Pima County Summer Youth Program is accepting applications for its 2022 sessions, which begins June 3 at county facilities and private businesses across the County.
The program, which also offers students the opportunity to catch up on schoolwork, is open to youth ages 14 to 21 and is broken up into two, four-week sessions — one in June and one in July. Applicants can choose the session they prefer by going to summeryouth.pima.gov.
This year, the program is requiring that all youngsters be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate.
The deadline to apply is Friday, March 18, and youth must submit all required documentation by Friday, March 25. Required documents include a report card or unofficial transcript and a vaccination card. Participants who are no longer in school must also schedule a skills-assessment test by calling 520-724-9639.
Work hours in the program range from 20 to 40 hours per week; pay is $15.75 an hour.
The program, part of Pima County’s Department of Community & Workforce Development, is making a comeback, of sorts, after being canceled in 2020 and being greatly scaled back in 2021 due to the pandemic.
In 2019, the last year that the Summer Youth Program ran at full capacity, it employed about 1,400 young people. The goal this summer is to employ about 1,000 young adults, said Daphanie Conner, Pima County’s youth program manager.
“We only served about 175 youths last summer. This year we won’t be back to full capacity, but we’re ramping back up,” Conner said.
Maria Suarez, a youth program coordinator, said one of the challenges the program is facing is that many companies that normally host young interns are still conducting business remotely due to COVID-19.
“We still don’t have full capacity with many of the worksites. A lot of those places still have their employees working from home,” Suarez said. “We’re still trying to get the word out to many of those companies that we are back.”
The biggest component of the Summer Youth Program involves placing youngsters as interns with local businesses, nonprofits and Pima County departments.
Other components include:
- A Steps 2 STEM program that will give 30 youth the chance to do academic research and earn three units of college credit.
- A hospitality boot camp for participants to develop skills and earn certificates in the hospitality industry.
- A construction/landscaping boot camp that will give youth the opportunity to earn certificates in that industry.
- A customer-service boot camp for youth to learn the three P’s — professionalism, patience and a people-first attitude.
- Internships with Pima County’s Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department, which will put young adults to work at various wastewater facilities.
Conner and Suarez said the program can be the first step toward a rewarding career. Both pointed out that they started their careers as interns in the Summer Youth Program.
“Some of our worksites end up hiring our youths to stay on full time,” Suarez said. “It’s a win-win situation for the worksites and for the youths because they get the experience and sometimes they get a permanent position.”
Added Conner, “This program has touched so many lives over the years. That’s why it is just so critical that this program continue and we are so excited to have this program back.
“For many of the youths, this is their first job. For others, it means going back to school and getting caught up on some high school credits so they can graduate on time. It’s a critical program for the young people in our community.”