An initiative that provides internships for New Orleans public high school students is getting a notable boost from the city, which has committed $1.1 million to provide work for hundreds of young people over the next three years.
The New Orleans City Council this month approved a multi-year cooperative endeavor agreement that will significantly bolster the work the city does with YouthForce NOLA, a collaborative supported by a dozen organizations.
The agreement with that collaborative will provide paid internships for up to 275 high schoolers next year for jobs in the health sciences, digital media and skilled crafts fields. The program will support up to 325 interns per year in 2019 and 2020.
At present, the city’s partnership with YouthForce enrolls 47 students.
"This partnership is an incredible example of meeting youth where they're at with a program that attacks inequity head on,” council President Jason Williams said.
The partnership is part of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration’s overall strategy to increase job options for young people in the city, one that also encompasses summer work programs through the NOLA Youth Works Initiative.
YouthForce NOLA was launched in 2015 as a remedy for the problem of too few young people being prepared for thousands of high-wage, high-demand jobs that are expected to become available in the New Orleans area in the next decade.
The city, Baptist Community Ministries, GNO Inc., the Orleans Parish School Board and other agencies are combining to support it.
The city poured $120,000 into the program’s budget in 2016 and more than double that amount this year, helping more than 250 students complete paid internships in both years.
The $1.1 million, the first chunk of which will come from the city's general fund next year, will help more than 900 students obtain work with more than 90 local employers over the next three years. The students will receive 60 hours of paid soft-skills training and 90 hours of paid work experience.
Eligible students hail from more than a dozen open-enrollment public high schools that compete annually for the right to participate in the program. Those schools this year include Abramson Sci Academy, Cohen College Prep, Edna Karr High School, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy and others.
"Since 2010, we have been committed to ensuring that the youth of New Orleans have had access to the best opportunities," Landrieu said. "We are excited to continue our partnership with YouthForce NOLA and look forward to providing students with invaluable work experiences to prepare them for success."