Aug 18, 2022 - News

Meet the faces of a Des Moines summer youth employment program

A photo of job participants at Oakridge Neighborhood.
The 2022 Youth Summer Employment Program celebration at the Wakonda Club in DSM last week . Photo courtesy of Oakridge Neighborhood

Nearly 70 students from low-income families wrapped up paid internships last week through Oakridge neighborhood's Youth Summer Employment Program (YSEP).

Why it matters: Summer jobs provide young people with benefits that extend beyond a paycheck.

  • School attendance and academic performance are higher among those who participate in a similar New York program, according to a long-term study published last year by the Journal of the Econometric Society.

State of play: Local businesses, charities and Future Ready Iowa fund the program, which is open to students between the ages of 14 and 21.

  • Their contributions help to pay salaries and transportation or clothing costs for some of the students.
  • Participants were hired by more than a dozen metro companies, paid between $11-$15 an hour and worked up to 40 hours each week.

Zoom in: Azaree Shakshak immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt with her family in 2004.

  • Her internship in the human resources department of Sammons Financial Group in WDM this year was her fourth in the program.
  • She is a sophomore this year at Iowa State University, studying psychology and human resources, a career path she discovered through her job experiences, she told Axios.

Get involved: Donors and companies that wish to take part in next year's program should contact Oakridge.

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