City’s new Summer Bridge program to provide youth with enriching activities this summer

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The city has announced Summer Bridge, a new Summer Youth Employment Program that will provide enriching activities for the city’s youth while school is out.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the new initiative, a $51 million public-private partnership, after suspending this year’s SYEP and proposing to cut it from the city’s budget altogether due to the financial crisis that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the mayor and City Council announced funding for a total of 115,000 positions in youth and community programs, including Summer Bridge, in order to provide young people from low-income households with enrichment opportunities amid the challenges the pandemic has presented for them.

While the Summer Bridge program is distinct from the traditional SYEP, the city notes it will leverage the program’s partners and program infrastructure to deliver a valuable experience for participating youth through career exploration, project-based learning and management, and civic engagement skill building beginning in late July.

“Restoring the Summer Youth Employment Program was an absolute must for the Council this year and I am so proud we fought to save summer for New York City young people in a very difficult year,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “This program is a lifeline for so many New York City children and its impact can last a lifetime. I thank Council member Rose for her steadfast leadership on this issue during tough budget negotiations and for championing this program over the years.”

City officials along with a number of private donors aim to serve 35,000 participants through the program.

The partners include the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and with $6 million in philanthropic support from the Ford Foundation, Donald A. Pels Foundation, JPB Foundation, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, Jennifer & Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Gray Foundation, The Neuberger Berman Foundation, the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust, CIT Group and Citi Foundation.

“I am glad to see that the mayor is supporting critical youth services,” said Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm, who’s also the Council’s Finance Chair. “We cannot forget our youth this summer. NYC is still in the middle of a pandemic and many of the summer activities they would normally participate in remain off limits. The need for Summer Bridge 2020 and other programs that will give young people a productive summer is greater than ever.”

Summer Bridge 2020 will offer approximately 60 to 90 hours of activities over a five-week period. The program will prioritize low-income, justice-involved, foster care, runaway and homeless, NYCHA residents and young adults from communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

All participants will engage in online career exploration through an application developed by Hats & Ladders, a nationally recognized education software provider. This will incorporate online interaction with professionals, including well-known personalities and industry leaders from public service, business, technology, the arts and more, aligned to participants’ interests.

Summer Bridge will feature project-based learning related to community service, COVID-19 recovery, and careers in STEAM, which will be delivered by nonprofit organizations. Some youth will also participate in a “Workplace Challenge,” in which participants work in teams to solve real-world business problems presented to them by private employers, community-based organizations, and government agencies.

“Our city’s young people have sacrificed so much during this crisis and they deserve opportunities to learn and grow,” de Blasio said. “We thank the City Council and the philanthropic community for ensuring our kids have a positive, productive summer.”

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