California launches $185 million youth job corps

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California on Thursday launched a $185 million jobs program aimed at putting disadvantaged youth and young adults to work helping their communities while improving their prospects for future success.

The Californians For All Youth Jobs Corps was funded in Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 “California Comeback Plan.”

The first phase makes $150 million available to 13 large cities and phase two will make $35 million available to smaller counties and cities selected through a competitive process, state Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday told an online briefing.

The intent of the two-year plan is ”to increase youth employment in our underserved and underemployed populations, developing meaningful career pathways for young people and helping our communities tackle local priorities,” Fryday said.

The Jobs Corps will work with the cities to recruit thousands of Californians between the ages of 16 and 30.

“This program will be intentional about focusing hiring on underserved populations like low-income youth, youth who are unemployed or out of school, youth who are justice-involved or transitioning from foster care or are engaged with mental health or substance abuse systems,” Fryday said.

All participants will receive at least $15 an hour, but cities will be able to increase those wages. The program also includes so-called wrap-around services such as special job training, case management and resume preparation.

Cities may use the funds to create new programs or expand existing programs such as those run by community-based organizations.

“Young people across California are going to be able to get a job, they will be able to gain critical job skills and they will be serving our state at a time of great need,” Fryday said.

Among a half-dozen mayors participating in the briefing, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said her city will use its nearly $6 million allocation to create 90 summer jobs and 150 year-round jobs “with a focus on our disconnected youth.”

“We are ready to fuel the recovery from this pandemic,” Schaaf said, adding that Oakland businesses have been clear in what they expect from an equitable recovery.

“They want to see a city that is clean, that is green, that is resilient, that is safe,” she said.

Los Angeles will receive $53 million, said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“This is really California at its best and our best shot to save and restore the California dream,” he said.

Other big cities receiving funds include San Diego, $19.1 million; San Jose, $13.9 million; San Francisco, $11.8 million; Fresno, $7.4 million; Sacramento, $6.9 million; Long Beach, $6.3 million; Bakersfield, $5.3 million; Anaheim, $4.7 million; Santa Ana, $4.4 million; Riverside, $4.4 million and Stockton, $4.3 million.