BronxWorks 2023 Summer Youth Employment Program

Summer youth participants help run BronxWorks Farm Stands from July to August.

In the New York City social services landscape, the end of summer is foretold by the graduating Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) cohorts, tens of thousands of the city’s youth now equipped with new work experiences and skills.

This summer, BronxWorks SYEP enrolled 1,347 youth participants, from ages 14 to 24, across three initiatives. The first initiative was school-based, where BronxWorks partnered with four Bronx high schools (Frederick Douglas Academy, Careers in Sports High School, Academy for Language and Technology, and Bronx Leadership Academy II) to recruit SYEP participants. The second initiative recruited participants specifically from Bronx River New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents, and the third initiative was the open lottery for public applicants. This summer, BronxWorks SYEP received over three thousand applications to the open lottery.

A community group works with SYEP participants at BronxWorks.

ShaQuanna Cody-McGrew, Program Director, started to oversee the department’s youth workforce programs last year. “We inherited a great blueprint and team from previous years,” said Shaquanna. “My experience and community partnerships from Jobs Plus allowed us to expand programming, particularly with recruitment for the special initiative group from the Bronx River Houses.” As a result, BronxWorks SYEP exceeded their NYCHA participant targets from last year. To manage the over 1,300 participants, the SYEP team added 25 seasonal staff, including Program Assistants, Site Monitors, and Activity Specialists.

Some of the BronxWorks Summer staff and older youth participants who assisted with project-based learning groups.

Student participants were divided into two groups. The younger youth, ages 14 to 15, were separated into project-based learning groups, supervised by activity specialists. The groups developed different projects and activities and worked with community partners, such as Family Cook Productions and Arcturus Community Endeavors, to tackle a range of topics, like food preparation, nutrition, technology training, and more. Groups also organized and took trips to locations relevant to their projects. For their project-based work for the summer, youth participants received a stipend.

SYEP participants work together on learning more about technology and its application in the working world.

The older youth, ages 16 to 24, were assigned to a worksite to gain valuable job experience. The SYEP team works hard year-round to develop relationships with community partners to secure worksite placements for the summer. Worksites include large retailers like Kid City, CVS, and Burlington Coat Factory; local businesses and organizations like ASPCA, Association for Energy Affordability, Kraus Management Inc., New York Urban League, Rosa’s at Park, Sankofa Haus; as well as many BronxWorks sites, including Children & Youth Summer Camp Programs, Farm Stands, Shelters, and operations. Older youth participants were paid for their work. SYEP Site Monitors checked in with each participant and worksite supervisor to ensure compliance with program standards, mitigate any potential issues, and provide feedback to facilitate growth for the participants.

Nasir, an SYEP intern from the BronxWorks Administrative Building, who learned about maintenance and building operations.

When asked why SYEP is such an important and celebrated annual program for New York City, ShaQuanna said, “Having been in workforce development since 2015, our department is always concerned about how prepared our participants are with job readiness skills. SYEP imparts those skills and experiences on youth at a very early age, and when they are adults looking for jobs, they already have an understanding of what it takes.”

Read more
BronxWorks Stories

Read More Stories