New summer employment program supports low-income Illinois youth with new job opportunities

By Amanda Brennan

A new statewide initiative is focused on providing jobs to low-income and/or at-risk youth in the state of Illinois over the summer. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke at the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center (UNCC) on Monday to announce the redesigned $9.3 million COVID-19 Summer Youth Employment Program, supporting dozens of projects across counties hit hardest by the coronavirus. 

This program will employ over 2,000 young people across the state in need of opportunity, with 100 youth positions available through the UNCC. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker believes that workforce development makes a big difference in young people’s lives and is a big investment in the future. “Even during our most difficult times, prioritizing young people ought to be a no-brainer,” Pritzker said. 

Democratic State Representative Carol Ammons also believes in providing opportunities in order to reach the underlying issues. “We want all 100 students placed in employment opportunities in Urbana, and we want all of those children to have an opportunity to take the skills that they learned and go to college, or go to the trades, or into the apprenticeship programs,” she said. 

Janice Mitchell, Founder & Executive Director of the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center, shared her excitement as UNCC was selected as one of the summer youth employment sites during COVID-19. “We have students throughout Champaign County who are able to have this work experience this summer. Had it not been for the Summer Youth Employment Program, that would not have happened. We are very grateful,” Mitchell said. 

Young adults, aged 16-24, involved with the Summer Youth Employment Program will be placed in age-appropriate, ability-appropriate and experience-appropriate positions and programs that target a Registered or Non-Registered Apprenticeship.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) states that, “The primary objective for youth served in the C-SYEP program is to develop their ‘Essential Employability Skills’ and to earn a minimum of 180 hours of entry-level work experience.”

For more information, visit the IDHS COVID-19 Summer Youth Employment Program (C-SYEP) information page, or watch the Monday afternoon press conference with the governor and local officials. 


Photo by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Facebook livestream

Amanda Brennan

Digital Reporter for Good Morning Illini and UI7 News. Amanda also serves as the President for the University of Illinois chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and is a photographer with the Illini Union Marketing Department. You can find Amanda in the Marching Illini Color Guard during the football season. Go Illini!