The youth, staff, and partners of YOU Boston celebrated the conclusion of their summer youth employment program on August 13 just as they had conducted it – virtually. A year ago, said Interim Director Jonathan Makrez over Zoom, “I would never have thought this was possible.”

And yet YOU Boston, an organization that supports court-involved and proven-risk youth on a path to success, managed to place 106 young people in paid working and learning opportunities. Eighty percent completed the six-week program – a retention rate on par with the previous year.

“Our country is at a crossroads and we need your voices in play,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said to the participants in a recorded video. “You all have a mark to make on our world. You represent Boston’s strength and Boston’s future. And I’m proud of you.”

Each week of the program, young people spent 15 hours taking part in mentoring workshops, financial literacy workshops, a job readiness curriculum, independent portfolio work, and industry-specific training. Industries and training partners are listed in the table below.

IndustryTraining Partner
CosmetologyModa Deluxe Studio
CulinaryJamaica Mi Hungry
Customer serviceCoffee Project NY
Health/wellnessJET Boston
Media artsThe Loop Lab
Visual artsRocky Cotard

In order to make virtual programming possible, YOU Boston staff made numerous personal deliveries of laptops and wifi hotspots to participants’ homes. Young people, too, had to do their best to participate from the confines and distractions of home.

At their virtual end-of-program celebration, Dr. Rufus Faulk, director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety, urged participants to continue to make the most of their opportunities, as they had this summer.

“Be prepared to seize the moment,” he said. “When you’re in a position to change your life trajectory, you have to be prepared to do so.”

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