The City of Boston is boosting its summer jobs program with an extra $4.1 million, money that will help fund employment for about 8,000 young people in July and August.
But because of the coronavirus, this year’s program will operate with some health precautions in place. Some internships will be virtual, for example, and the city will provide protective gear for students who will work onsite. Under the Mayor’s Youth Summer Jobs Program, young people aged 14 to 21 can work up to 25 hours per week at $12.75 an hour for six-weeks.
"While this year’s summer jobs program is different due to coronavirus, our dedication to providing these important opportunities is stronger than ever,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement.
Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. will welcome 35 high school students on July 6 as part of the program.
Melodie Knowlton, director of the company’s Learning Lab, has been working to move the hands-on program to a Zoom experience. In the coming weeks, students will receive lab kits from the biopharmaceutical company so that they can conduct science experiments from their homes, collaborating online with other student lab partners.
“This would be an easy thing to say, ‘not this summer,’ and take a pause,” Knowlton said. “But I think it is amazing that our company is recognizing the role that this internship plays for our students.”
Knowlton said Vertex will also provide community-building activities for the students, such as cooking classes.
About 530 students will work outside on beautification projects managed by the city’s parks and public works departments. Another 400 students interested in graphic design will work on COVID-19 safety awareness and US Census outreach under the “Peer to Peer COVID-19 Campaign.” As part of the city’s “Virtual Options,” about 300 students will participate in remote positions, and roughly 450 students will take online college courses in tech, creative economy, and human services.
"Boston’s summer jobs program is one of the best opportunities for our youth to stay engaged in important life-building learning by giving them a chance to build their skills, gain confidence, and have formative experiences in the workplace that we hope will make them excited for their future,” Walsh said.
In a December 2017 report, the city found that the summer jobs program helps to boost social skills and job readiness, especially for minority students. Roughly half of the students participating indicated that they help pay one or more household bills, and one in five said that they are saving for college tuition.
The mayor this year has allocated a total of $11.9 million in funding for Youth Engagement and Employment ― a resource center for career development ― and the Summer Jobs Program.