Supporting Summer Youth Employment Programs

With the arrival of summer, communities are looking for ways to engage youth in supportive, pro-social activities. Summer youth employment programs are a popular strategy in many communities to ensure that youth gain valuable workforce experience and have a safe, productive way to spend their time. These programs provide subsidized wages for youth who work at selected employers during the summer, and often include job readiness training and other supports for youth who participate. provides a variety of strategies, tools, and resources to assist communities in their efforts to support youth over the summer months.

Federal Supports for Summer Youth Employment

Communities have a number of options for supporting summer youth employment. There are a few federal funding streams that can be used for this purpose.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Funds

Some communities are using a portion of their state's TANF block grant funds to support summer youth employment. TANF agencies can partner with local workforce agencies on summer youth employment efforts or set up programs on their own. Several communities intend to use their TANF funds to support summer youth employment in 2011.

Examples of specific activities that states have allowed funding for under this program include:

  • Work subsidies for eligible youth – payment to employer or third party
  • Education and training
  • Supportive services
  • Transportation for employed persons for the purpose of attending work or training
  • Counseling and employment related services
  • Incentive payments that reward the participant for achieving a pre-determined milestone (e.g. one month job retention)
  • For more information, contact the TANF office in your state. Contact information for TANF offices in all fifty states can be found at:

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Formula-Funded Grants

The WIA of 1998 enacted a formula-funded youth program serving eligible low-income youth, ages 14-21, who face barriers to employment. The Department of Labor (DOL) allocates funds for youth services to state and local areas based on a formula distribution.

DOL also maintains a Summer Jobs Website. DOL has partnered with business leaders, elected officials and non-profits to create, publicize, and fill 100,000 jobs for low-income young people, age 16-24.

Federal agencies also provide funds that, while not directly targeted to summer youth employment, can be used to supplement summer efforts:


YouthBuild provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16-24 while constructing or rehabilitating affordable housing for low-income or homeless families in their own neighborhoods.

View this funding opportunity

School District Youth Offender Initiative

This initiative supports school districts in developing strategies for reducing youth involvement in gangs using a workforce development approach.

View this funding opportunity (PDF, 1 page)

Categorical Grants: Youth Offender Registered Apprenticeship, Alternative Education, Project Expansion Grants

Categorical Grants: Youth Offender Registered Apprenticeship, Alternative Education, Project Expansion Grants: This program provides career training, alternative education and apprenticeships.

View this funding opportunity (PDF, 1 page)

Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD)

This initiative supports enhanced transitional jobs programs, as well as other activities and services, to increase the workforce participation of low-income, hard-to-employ populations, specifically non-custodial parents and/or ex-offenders reentering their communities.

View this funding opportunity (PDF, 38 pages)

Young Parents Demonstration

This program supports intensive mentoring services to low-income young parents (both mothers and fathers, and expectant parents ages 16 to 24) participating in workforce development programs.

View this funding opportunity (PDF, 35 pages)

Green Jobs Innovation Fund

The goal of the Green Jobs Innovation Fund is to increase the number of individuals completing training programs who receive industry-recognized credentials and to increase the number of individuals completing training programs for employment in green jobs.

View this funding opportunity (PDF, 35 pages)

Community of Practice

Join the Community of Practice on Helping Youth Transition!

Tools offers the opportunity to map a broad range of federally-funded programs in your area by topic (e.g., education, training, and employment) or department (e.g., Department of Labor). This allows users to see a visual representation of local resources to identify potential partners and reduce duplication of effort.

The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth provides strategies for connecting youth with disabilities and other disconnected youth to summer jobs and work-based learning experiences. The site has a searchable database of strategies for connecting youth with disabilities to employment.

Summer Reading List

Below are some resources that share other communities' experiences with supporting youth employment and other summer activities for youth, including lessons learned and opportunities for the future.

Innovating Under Pressure: The Story of the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative

This study, prepared by Brandeis University, documents the implementation of the ARRA summer youth employment initiative in four communities that received large infusions of federal funds. The study describes the local context for implementation, provides insight into specific assets and innovations that were used to achieve the community goals, and identifies best practices.

Download the PDF (PDF, 121 pages)

Reinvesting in America's Youth: Lessons from the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative

This national evaluation of summer youth activities funded by the Recovery Act, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., provides an in-depth description of the experiences of selected sites and presents lessons on implementation practices that may inform future summer youth employment programs.

Download the PDF (PDF, 148 pages)

Summer Youth Employment Rates Plunge

This article provides a few local strategies for financing summer youth employment programs. Notable is a youth intern tax credit approved by the Philadelphia City Council to reward local businesses for hiring young people.

Read the article

AmeriCorps NCCC: Strengthening Communities and Developing Leaders

The National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) is one of the three programs that form AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that engage Americans in service to address critical community needs within the United States. AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women ages 18-25.

Read the article

Developing Programs for Youth in Allied Health Careers

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at the Department of Labor (DOL) is making considerable investments in projects that focus on preparing participants for employment in the health care sector. The Allied Health Access (AHA) Guidebook: How to Develop Programs for Youth in Allied Health Careers offers strategies and resources to create or expand programs and services leading to allied health opportunities for youth and young adults.

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The Youth Career Café - Empowering Youth to Succeed in the Real World

The Department of Labor funds youth training and employment programs under the Workforce Investment Act; funds are provided to states and then to local areas to deliver services. The Youth Career Café is one approach a local workforce area has taken to help young people connect with the world of work.

Read the article