THE BLOG

Youth to See Green with Jobs in California

06/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

From May until June, Los Angeles is putting another 1,250 youth to work in summer jobs. Starting now our city is placing over 16,500 young people in jobs through the fiscal year 2009-2010. This is the first use of the Workforce Investment Act that is part of the $20.3 million dollars Los Angeles is receiving as part of the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act. On the steps of City Hall Monday morning, both Mayor Villaraigosa and Governor Schwarzenegger announced that California, particularly Los Angeles, is leading the nation in youth employment.

What isn't clear yet is whether small businesses and entrepreneurial endeavors, especially in the green space, can partake in any of these stimulus-funds-supported employment programs. I hope to get an answer to this shortly. Small businesses, long the backbone of our economy, are deserving of recovery act assistance as much as are large corporations.

HIRE L.A.'s Youth Employment Program connects young adults with local businesses to employ men and women ages 14-24, many of whom are from low-income households. LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia referred to the "Earn and Learn" Program as one that makes a difference to our youth and makes a difference to our city and our city's future. The Governor noted that kids who have summer and afterschool jobs are likely to lead more productive lives especially when they have the opportunity to earn their own money. "Kids will be working in hospitals, as tutors, as lifeguards," he said. Schwarzenegger also noted that California is the only state in the nation to appoint an Inspector General to scrutinize every cent of the stimulus money being spent in our state. We here in California have been allocated a total of $415 million in Recovery Act funding that is being distributed to 49 local Workforce Investment Boards. We have invested this money in 60 days, rather than taking the 120 days allotted to us by the Feds.

Mayor Villaraigosa had the assembled workforce youth chant with him, "Thank you President Barack Obama for believing in our youth." Representatives of Vons (Safeway Inc.) and Kaiser Permanente were also on hand to acknowledge their pledge to employ 500 and 600 jobs, respectively, to the Youth Employment Program.

"The White House now understands that cities are where the workforce of America is. It's about investing in our cities again. It's about investing in our next generation." Mayor Villaraigosa then went on to fondly recall how that first summer job or afterschool job that you get is one that you will always remember. "That's an experience you will never forget...struggling with that first job, earning your own money for the first time." He noted that when he took office, the city had 3,000 employed through the Youth Emploment Program. By 2010, L.A. will have 16,500 youth employed through the program. On hand with the Mayor was the Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District, Marshall Drummond.

Just on Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger announced his Green Jobs Employment initiative also as part of the Economic Recovery Act. A spokesperson for his office explained that California's leadership is in support of jobs that are for the 21st century. In many cases, they said, that would mean "green" jobs.

California Green Corps., dedicated to building up communities and the state's green workforce, will place at-risk young adults aged 16-24 into jobs in California's emerging green economy.

"President Obama and I share similar priorities right now when it comes to helping the economy rebound and creating a greener California and America," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Green jobs are exactly what our economy and environment need right now - and the California Green Corps targets that need while helping at-risk young adults realize a brighter future."

And with the Energy Stimulus Funds, California is out in front, too. Schwarzenegger announced today that California's Energy Commission is investing $15 million to build a green workforce to meet renewable and alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technology needs.

"The Energy Commission will expand on this plan and leverage $20 million in Recovery Act funds to create a more extensive green workforce on energy efficiency and clean energy sources, including wind and solar energy," announced the Governor's office.