Youth and young adults who are having a rough time overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are targeted for help under a set of long-awaited initiatives announced this week by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The measures include an effort by City University of New York (CUNY) to reach out to enroll 5,000 young people for classes this spring, including many who had already been planning to attend last fall but didn’t show up because of the public health emergency. In addition, the city is reaching out to recent public high school graduates to offer about 2,000 of them paid internships that come with college credit.
Simultaneously, the city’s Disconnected Youth Task Force issued a strategic plan to help 16- to 24-year-olds who are out of work and not in school because of the pandemic.
“The measures we’re announcing today represent just a first set of actions demonstrating our commitment to center their wellbeing as we begin the long road to recovery from the pandemic,” de Blasio said in a statement accompanying Tuesday’s announcement. “We look forward to working with the new Biden-Harris administration and Congressional leadership to build back NYC better than ever.”
Under the CUNY initiative, current CUNY students would serve as “coaches,” sharing with new students their own experiences and providing support through the enrollment and financial aid procedures.
In addition, about 600 students, including 100 majors in science, tech, engineering and math, whose studies were disrupted by the coronavirus will be in line for intensive help with admissions and re-enrollment, including financial aid. Peers will provide ongoing academic and career advising.
In partnership with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services and other organizations, 80 youth at the Horizon and Crossroads juvenile centers will get 12 weeks of help in support of distance learning. As the kids return to the community, they will have continuous academic help.
“Our youth and young adults who support their families and communities while attending school have been hit hardest by this crisis and they deserve the spotlight this taskforce is putting on their recovery,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “Our educators and schools will continue to serve these young people by providing a high-quality education that meets their unique needs, while enthusiastically supporting the recommendations of this report.”
The Disconnected Youth Task Force report notes that the COVID-19 crisis has hit communities of color hardest both healthwise and financially, saying the fallout has likely at least doubled the number of out-of-work and out-of-school kids and reversing a decade of steady progress.
A broad range of officials pledged to keep the city focused on the needs of the city’s most vulnerable youth.