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Stimulus Money Creating Summer Jobs for Low-Income FL Students



June 23, 2010

MIAMI, Fla. - Summer jobs have been scarce for students. In Florida, however, federal stimulus funds are enabling some low-income students to work this summer – in real jobs with real paychecks, learning real-life lessons.

With estimates of Miami area unemployment as high as 24 percent, Julie Edwards, executive director of the Miami Dade Community Action Agency, says her group is placing more than 400 students in county agencies through a paid internship program, thanks to an additional $5 million in stimulus money. She says the students are placed based on their career interests, and the skills they learn this summer can open new career doors and change lives.

"Our hope is that this experience would last these young people a lifetime, that it will propel them – if they have not already thought of some career path, that it will help them to make a decision."

They can choose from a variety of county agencies, she explains, including animal services, airports and seaports, and social service providers - all providing skills for the future.

"When a young person expressed interest in becoming a marine biologist, for instance, they were paired up with our Department of Environmental Resource Management where they could learn some of the basic skills that are required to become a marine biologist someday."

Edwards says these will be first jobs for many of the students, many of whom are helping to keep their families afloat financially.

"We see lots of families who obviously need the level of assistance to help them up and out of a situation that they've probably never experienced. So, we're hoping that this experience for our young people will also help the entire family on the road to self-sufficiency."

The program provides vital career experience and income to the students, at no cost to their employers, says Edwards. She notes many of these young people, ages 16 to 24, could become the first in their families to go to college.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL
 

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