How Youth Summer Jobs Build Long-Term Success

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America Saves for Young Workers (ASYW), a partner of the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth Education and Families, helps youth establish strong financial habits through its financial capability program. Last summer, 22 employers in 18 U.S. cities offered the program to over 21,000 youth employees.

As youth employment programs ramp up for the 2017 hiring season, America Saves is working around the clock to reach an even higher number of employees this summer. ASYW has added more than 10 new youth employment programs and continues to expand its national operations footprint. This year, the group anticipates that its partner programs will hire more than 40,000 youth across the country.

As ASYW continues to expand, America Saves and NLC are working to encourage more cities to move to direct deposit — one of the essential practices highlighted in NLC’s Youth Employment–Financial Capability Municipal Action Guide. Saving automatically is the most effective way to build financial resilience, and utilizing direct deposit is a critical step to any automatic saving plan. As ASYW delivers this behavior intervention to youth employment programs across the country, it also serves as one tool in use among the 25 Y.E.S. cities supported by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Meanwhile, ASYW’s partner cities are breaking new ground in achieving better financial outcomes for local youth. For example, in Nashville, Tennessee, Mayor Megan Barry’s Opportunity Now initiative will dramatically expand the size of the city’s summer youth employment program — with a goal of involving 10,000 youth in summer 2017 (from 250 in 2016). Nashville will utilize the America Saves for Young Workers platform to deliver financial capability to all youth hired this summer.

Additionally, Nashville has taken a page out of another ASYW city’s book, promoting savings by incorporating a pledge to save in the summer job application.  This motivates young people to think about saving earlier, an approach perfected and shared through the ASYW network by One Summer. As a result, all youth applicants in Chicago and Nashville focus on saving a portion of their earnings from the inception of their employment process.

Albany, New York, provides another example of a city that utilized America Saves for Young Workers in summer 2016 to great success. The Learning Initiatives and Gaining Headway Together (LIGHT) program provides youth with paid employment opportunities during the summer months. Commissioner Jonathan Jones championed the introduction of ASYW and as a result, LIGHT tripled the number of youth using direct deposit over the previous summer.

In the City of Durham, North Carolina, Mayor Bill Bell created a poverty reduction task force to improve residents’ financial health. Task Force convener and City Councilman Steve Schewel soon proposed a city-wide direct deposit campaign. His first step: ensuring the Durham Youth Internship Program (DYIP) offered direct deposit to all of its young workers. With America Saves for Young Workers’ help, DYIP secured a local credit union to offer free checking and linked savings accounts so that Durham’s young workers had a meaningful vehicle for savings.

These four cities constitute examples of the strong and positive impact that a leadership emphasis on saving can have. All it took was one or two dedicated city officials to initiate a process that improved the lives of young workers. Additionally, while young workers most often spend a portion of their paychecks locally, producing “dollar multiplier” benefits for merchants and service providers, the opportunity to save sets a pattern for long-term habits of balancing spending and saving.

Summer after summer, municipal youth employment programs continue to partner with America Saves for Young Workers to support young constituents’ future financial health. ASYW’s approach promotes financial stability by developing the habit of saving early, and is more effective when municipal leaders champion change in their cities.

Furthermore, in addition to advocating for direct deposit to an account, ASYW helps cities cultivate strong financial institutional relationships in order to provide high quality bank or credit union accounts to young people. In the end, city officials get to deliver on a new promise: better equipping young workers for financial success.

Municipal youth employment programs across the country have doubled down on their investment in youth by providing financial capability programs in conjunction with youth employment opportunities — and your city can, too. If you’re interested in delivering the free America Saves for Young Workers financial capability platform through your youth employment program, visit the website at americasavesforyoungworkers.org.

Photo: Getty

About the Author: Amelia O’Rourke-Owens is the Program Coordinator for the America Saves for Young Consumers program at America Saves.