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Mayor Slay touts success and growth in youth jobs program

Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio
Jarvis Jefferson-Bey (in blue) talks about his summer position at HM Dunn Aerospace. He's joined by the company's general manager, Chris Ross (far left), fellow particpant Kalon Garrison (in yellow), and Mayor Francis Slay.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is touting progress in the city's efforts to employ teenagers and young adults over the summer.

STL Youth Jobs launched nearly four years ago as a collaboration between the city and civic partners to offer paid positions and training opportunities for at-risk youth.

According to the mayor, in 2013 the program was able to hire about 100 young people ages 16 to 24 "… and from there we have now increased it with STL Youth Jobs and, with what we're doing with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, we have over 1,000 jobs that young people in our city are taking advantage of."

STL Youth Jobs this summer is responsible for nearly 500 of those positions. The rest is made possible by state funding through the office of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. 

Slay said another sign of the program’s success is there’s now a waiting list of participants.

“So, I will continue asking businesses and donors to hire young adults or provide funding to employ a young adult, which costs $2,500 for their salary, job training, financial literacy, education and job coaching,” he said.  

Slay spoke during a news conference at HM Dunn Aerospace on Vandeventer Avenue to highlight the success of the program and some of those participating.

Jarvis Jefferson-Bey is working this summer in the engineering department there. The 19-year-old said working for a company that provides parts for airliners and military aircraft is not usually considered an option in the Penrose neighborhood of north St. Louis, where he lives.

"Yes, we have a lot of shooting, crime and stuff like that.  But there's also a lot of good people, because when people think of where I'm from they like to call it the ghetto, yada yada — bad things like that. They focus on the crime and not the good people there," he said.

Jefferson-Bey will begin his sophomore year next month at Southeast Missouri State University, where he’s studying to be a mechanical engineer.

STL Youth Jobs this year is working with 115 small businesses and large companies in the region including Monsanto, SSM Health and Emerson.

The mayor's office has committed nearly $300,000 to support youth employment this summer.

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