Press Release

DYCD Launches School-Based Initiative as Part of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP)

SYEP staff is providing training to thousands of high school students to help them connect to summer jobs based on their career goals.

NEW YORK – New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Bill Chong today announced that for the first time in the 55-year history of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), DYCD is working closely with DOE schools to coordinate students’ work life with what they are learning in the classroom. The collaboration is part of an ongoing effort by DYCD to increase SYEP participants’ career exploration opportunities and build skills in their fields of interest.

SYEP staff members from 18 community-based organizations are providing training at 32 Career & Technical Education and Community Schools in all five boroughs, helping high school students connect to summer jobs based on their career goals, and develop summer experiences tailored to the academic or career focus of their school. Older students who participate will be placed in traditional jobs, while younger students will have a chance to be placed in jobs and participate in skill-building career awareness projects during the six-week SYEP program (July and August), based on their interests and needs. It’s expected that approximately 4,000 students will be enrolled.

“The school-based initiative of the Summer Youth Employment Program is yet another enhancement made by the City to better connect young people with jobs and careers that are more closely aligned with their goals, interests, and skills. By bringing hands-on training and guidance right into the classroom, we are preparing thousands of young people today to become the success stories of tomorrow,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives.

“Because of the support of the Mayor and City Council, we have stable funding for SYEP for the first time in recent memory. As we head into the 55th year of the program, DYCD is laying the groundwork to make the program even better. The new school-based partnership will better align school year learning for young people with a summer internship in a career in which they have shown interest. This is no longer your parents’ SYEP,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong.

“This partnership is about better serving kids and ensuring they have engaging, valuable summer jobs where they can grow, learn, and gain experience that will help them in college and in careers. I’m excited to work closely with DYCD on this important initiative, which goes hand-in-hand with our work to put students on the path to success through our Equity and Excellence for All agenda,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

“Connecting our schools with our workforce development system is the right formula to prepare NYC students for a the jobs of today and tomorrow—and provide real access to new opportunities. This type of approach has long been advanced by youth development advocates and industry leaders alike, and we applaud DYCD in taking this important step to rethink and reshape the nation’s single largest summer youth employment program. As we work with DYCD, the DOE, and the Center for Youth Employment to bring more private sector partners into the work, this new program model is a great sign of the City’s commitment to help build a highly skilled and diverse local workforce that can meet the needs of our City’s businesses,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

“Educational attainment and work experience are two powerful drivers of long term success in the labor market. Connecting the classroom to the world of work through the new SYEP school-based option will deliver enormously valuable experiences for our City’s young people. We commend DYCD, DOE, the participating high schools and providers, and look forward to working with them in support of this vital initiative,” said David Fischer, Executive Director of the NYC Center for Youth Employment.

“Aligning Summer Youth Employment and student academics in the classroom is a step in the right direction. I would like to commend DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong for changing this much needed policy that will greatly benefit our students who work in the Summer Youth Employment Program,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, chair of the Assembly Committee on Education.

“Providing young people with opportunities to further their education and career prospects is crucial to strengthening our communities. I thank DYCD Commissioner Chong for working with the DOE to increase participation in career training programming through the Summer Youth Employment Program. This is exactly the kind of connection we should be encouraging between the classroom and the job market, ensuring that Brooklyn’s youth harness every opportunity possible to be leading the next generation in our borough and beyond,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“This is a great opportunity for high school students to start thinking about their career goals and working towards achieving them. Over the years, the SYEP program has proven to be beneficial to both the employers and employees who have participated, and now it will help even more students establish their careers. I encourage Staten Island businesses who are looking for summer employees to hire students through this program,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.

“SYEP has been a lifeline for young people by opening the doors to real life career and educational opportunities. The Council has been a staunch advocate and longtime supporter of SYEP through advocacy and funding. We’re pleased to see that DYCD will implement this school-based model per the recommendations in the Council’s and Administration’s joint Youth Employment Task Force,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“For decades the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program has provided meaningful employment to young people while preparing them for the working world. This new initiative aims to better align these employment opportunities with students’ own long-term goals, thus equipping students with the tools they need for their own success. I welcome these efforts, and I look forward to continuing to work with the administration to expand the SYEP program,” said Councilmember Debi Rose, chair of the City Council Youth Services Committee.

Studies show that SYEP improves school attendance, offers new skills, reduces incarceration rates and keeps teens and young adults safe—including youth who wouldn’t otherwise have access to paying jobs.

SYEP is the nation’s largest summer youth employment initiative, and since 1963 has provided New York City young people between the ages of 14 and 24 with up to six weeks of entry-level experience at worksites in all five boroughs. Last summer, a record 69,716 participants were employed at more than 12,000 worksites. With the support of the Center for Youth Employment, the City further expanded Ladders for Leaders internships (1,855) and opportunities for young people who are homeless, court-involved or in foster care (3,170).

SYEP participants are compensated for their work at diverse worksites that include government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, law firms, museums, sports enterprises and retail. Specialized programming for disabled, foster care, runaway/homeless and court-involved young people are also available. SYEP offers workshops on job readiness, career exploration and financial literacy, and opportunities to continue education and social growth. Ladders for Leaders is an employer-paid internship component of SYEP for youth aged 16-22.

As part of a national effort to encourage young people to save and make healthy financial choices, SYEP participants have the option to receive their wages via direct deposit to a bank account of their choice. Last summer, more than 24,000 young people signed up for direct deposit accounts, a 400 percent increase since 2014. The multi-year initiative is funded by the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE Fund) and the Citi Foundation.

Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City launched the NYC Center for Youth Employment, a public-private initiative charged with helping to expand the City’s employment services for young New Yorkers, including SYEP. The Center for Youth Employment’s specific goal is to support 100,000 unique work-related experiences each year, including high-quality summer jobs, career exposure, skills-building, and supportive mentorships, by 2020. In collaboration with City agencies, employers and other stakeholders, the Center for Youth Employment is focused on increasing private sector involvement in these programs as well as evaluating the City’s youth workforce system as a whole, with an eye toward expanding effective programs and filling in gaps.

Employers and worksites looking to support New York City’s youth employment programs, including SYEP, should go to the Center for Youth Employment’s website ( Interested employers can also email the Mayor’s Fund at for details.