Groups to march to State House to push for summer jobs for teens

Teens to march to State House

In a plea to create jobs for teenagers, more than 1,000 youths are scheduled to march through the Financial District and up to Beacon Hill today to press lawmakers to allocate money for summer employment.

“This is the future work force,’’ said Lewis Finfer, an adult organizer for the coalition, which is seeking an increase of at least 3,000 statewide jobs this summer.

Some of the demonstrators, organized across Massachusetts by the Youth Jobs Coalition, plan to rally outside Fidelity Investments on Congress Street at 11 a.m. to highlight their request that private companies do more to provide summer jobs.


The coalition chose Fidelity, Finfer said, because the investment giant provided three summer jobs in Boston last year and none in 2010 under the state-assisted School-to-Career program, in which high school students are linked with employer-paid jobs.

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“Given how large a company they are, we thought they could do more,’’ said Finfer, who added that Fidelity is not alone in its ability to provide more help.

Jennifer Engle, a spokeswoman for Fidelity, said the company has been in recent contact with the Youth Jobs Coalition about sponsoring summer jobs. Fidelity, she added, has developed a broad partnership with schools in the state, including internships, career development, and job-focused training.

Along the route, marchers will be told about other companies, including Putnam Investments and Brown Brothers Harriman, that the coalition believes could provide more summer jobs.

Private help is critical in a city where only 14 percent of 590 companies with more than 100 employees are hiring teenagers, according to a report to be released today by the coalition.


The state’s teen summer employment rate fell from an average of 62 percent in 1999-2000 to 39 percent in 2010-11, according to the report. One out of two teenagers in the city gets a job, according to the report. But outside Boston, which has budgeted $4 million for summer jobs, the numbers are often much worse.

Neil Sullivan - executive director of the Boston Private Industry Council, which coordinates job matches through the School-to-Career program - called teen unemployment “an unseen depression.’’

Although Boston ranks at the top of the nation in finding and creating summer jobs, Sullivan said, more needs to be done. “All we ask is the ability to get in,’’ he said of jobs at private firms.

The benefits are felt at many levels, coalition organizers said.

“There are so many teens out there who are in so much trouble,’’ said Lekiara Gray, 16, an organizer at Dorchester Bay Youth Force, based in Uphams Corner. “If they have a job, they’ll have something to do during the day and won’t be around so much drama and chaos.’’


Gray’s concern was echoed by Dan Gelbtuch, director of the Dorchester Bay Youth Force. “Our strategy is you expose them to jobs as a teen, so they can start to build up those skills and network,’’ Gelbtuch said.

‘All we ask is the ability to get in.’

Neil Sullivan, executive director of the Boston Private Industry Council, who called teen unemployment ‘an unseen depression’

At the State House today, the marchers hope to meet with their representatives to press for $17 million for two youth jobs programs that have yet to receive funding for the summer, Finfer said. That sum would be a 17 percent increase, or a $5.25 million gain, over last year.

At about $2,000 for a summerlong job of 35 hours a week, many medium to large companies can afford the investment in both their work force and the community’s future, the report argued.

MacQuarrie can be reached at