The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) at City Kids is not your typical summer job. SYEP is a locally funded six-week program sponsored by the Department of Employment Services (DOES) that enables high school participants (JETs) to earn money, gain positive work experience and exposure, and develop essential skills to thrive professionally. Arii Sylvers, Program Manager, is leading this unique DC-based summer experience and has planned new and exciting ways for CK high schoolers to be introduced to the broader workforce landscape.
As part of SYEP, participants spend the day at the City Kids office in DC and visiting local businesses and outdoor sites, practicing skills, and hearing from experienced professionals about their lives and careers (including in public land stewardship and at local museums). During June, the SYEP students participated in Black Entrepreneur Week and heard from a variety of speakers. Alicia Sokol, owner of the 14th St Barre3 studio; Gwendolyn Wallace, author of the children’s book Joy Takes Root; and Joe Houston, owner of WeFit DC, the first private gym in Congress Heights, all contributed their time and expertise. These partnerships provided valuable exposure to diverse industries and role models. At the end of the week, the students presented Shark Tank-style business proposals in a friendly competition! For Wellness Week, SYEP participants are learning about mental health and mindfulness tools. They will head to the Cloverleaf Equine Center to learn about how horseback riding and caretaking can be paired with therapy credentials.
Arii hopes “SYEP will help each participant develop professional skills, gain a deeper understanding of outdoor career paths, and increase their exposure to DC’s natural resources and assets.” SYEP, like all programs at City Kids, aims to encourage personal empowerment, social and intellectual engagement, and foster a sense of community. Participants set personal goals on the first day, broke them down into smaller steps, and have weekly check-ins to reflect on how they’re doing.
The SYEP program at City Kids goes beyond providing summer employment for youth. Through partnerships with entrepreneurs and local leaders, emphasis on goal-setting, and a focus on personal growth, SYEP equips youth with the skills and confidence to navigate the workforce and make a positive impact in their communities.