City Desk

Summer Jobs Program Begins With Knives, Thefts

jobs-1Today, 21,000 District kids went to work as part the mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). They fanned out across the city, filling up recreation centers, pools, parks, the Wilson Building, and various private sector jobs. And like last year, the program has started with a few troubling incidents.

This morning, program supervisors seized knives from kids as they walked through metal detectors at RFK. One official with the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization wrote in an e-mail: "This and other behavior is evidence that maybe the city should re-think its decision to eliminate pre-program ORIENTATION for these youth."

Last year's orientation didn't end so well.

Also at the RFK site, there were reports of SYEP kids stealing property: "I-phones have come up missing," reports one e-mail.

*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Georgia Avenue Day

    I'll be the first to say that the DC Summer Works Program is bullshit.

    There is no competitive process, GPA requirement, school attendance requirement, essay requirement or criminal background check for kids to get these primarily GOVERNMENT jobs through the program.

    Jobs are given based solely on age and residency. And its fucked up because the real world doesn't work that way.

    As a result these kids end up recycling the same Murion Burry entitlement mindset of their grandparents and parents. "Gimmie, gimmie and gimmie me more without having to earn it."

    When kids from the DC Summer Youth Employment Program are sent to office settings its more of a headache and becomes babysitting because they have NO basic knowledge, skills or abilities other than how to upload pictures to Facebook, play Solitaire, braid each other's hair and chew and spit out sunflower seeds.

    This is included with coming to work dressed like Nicki Minaj and/or an extra from Boyz n' the Hood...all while smelling of marjuana from a roach they blazed before coming into work.

    For anyone that tries to use the argument that the Summer Youth Employment Program aids in crime reduction...please. Turn on your local news station and you will clearly see that the adolescent TaShawn and Markeith are showing their assess.

    And during the hours that kids are at their summer jobs its too damn if they weren't working they would be in the don't come out in the summer acting up until the sun sets a little.

    Can't wait for the numbers to come in on how many of the kids in the program are actually residents of Prince George's County...but paid with my DC tax dollars.

  • Lola

    Oh bullshit Georgia Avenue Day. Bullshit. I know firsthand that the summer youth program employs kids from the city only (they actually have a process where they have you prove residency). True that many of them come from difficult backgrounds/broken homes and have no professional experience or etiquette. The point of the program is to give these kids a chance, let them see what its like to have a job that could lead to a stable future, and LEARN professional etiquette. I've met kids who dreamed of college and a good government job but didn't think it was practical until they got into the program. I know other kids who participate in the programs who are college bound and very intelligent. There are plenty of internships around that are purely based on academic merit, but this program serves a different purpose. It gives these kids not a sense of entitlement but pride in a learned work ethic and new sense of professionalism. Of course, there will be downfalls in any given government program, but I have to say this one definitely benefits the youth of the city. Talk about something you actually KNOW about rather than something you've made an assumption about!

  • Georgia Avenue Day

    Lola honey I make no assumptions. And with my intricate details about the program and kids that participate, I think its quite clear that I am not running on assumptions...or bullshit.

    Lest' we remember that the majority of these kids are placed in DC Government agencies.

    Have you visited any DC Government agencies lately? I would not exactly view any DC Government agency or the adults that work there as a training ground for professionalism, having a good work ethic or appropiate etiquette in the workplace.

    Can I get an amen...

    Who or what is measuring any performance outcomes for these kids? How do we know that they can draft correspondence by the end of the summer, can they successful fax, scan, copy or know how to answer a phone without their screwed-up DC accent? Where's the evidence?

    By the end of the summer...these kids are happy that they got an easy check...and are off to enhancing their Nicki Minaj and Lil' Wayne wannabe wardrobes.

    I would love for the Summer Employment Program to be the "Lean on Me" cumbia story of changing the lives of young people...but it ain't.

    The requirements and everybody gets a free lunch concept of the DC Summer Youth Employment program must change for that to happen. You're not just given a earn a job. And we need to teach young people that as early as possible.

    Many of these kids are failing in school, have poor attendance, juvenile records, repeated suspensions, weed heads...they shouldn't be rewarded with an easy check for acting like assholes all school year.

    And regarding your claim that the youth employment program only employs kids who are DC residents is bullshit as well.

    Since Barry, since Kelly, since Williams and laaawd now since Fenty kids from Prince George's County have used the addresses of grandparents, aunts and family friends to "prove" DC residency and get a DC summer job.

    The process to prove residency for the DC summer works program through the Dept of Employment Services is not rocket science...and one thing people in this urrrea know how to do is work the system.

    Whew, another Amen.

    And Lola honey I have included a link to the WUSA9 article that highlights the inspector general's investigation that found during the 2008 summer program:

    "We found more than 200 people in the program who are not residents of D.C. and 104 who are over the age of 50," says Kevin Donohue, the author the report."

    See the link here:

    And trust me Lola there are kids that are residents of Prince George's and Charles counties registered and working with the DC Summer Employment Program right now using their retired grandmother's address.

  • well

    I have had summer workers at my government agency. My experience has been mixed. Some have been excellent. Some had to be reassigned. The problem we had was that some young people didn't want to do the work [we developed a training program for the students].

    It seems that the problem may be that the adults who manage the program are the problem. Like in most settings, the teens meet the expectations set for them. I guess when you expect them to be hooligans, you get hooligans.

  • downtown rez

    My opinion? Jobs are earned. They are not a right.
    If the DC gov has 30,000 employees, and every summer for two months those numbers increase by 21,000 to 51,000, and not just in government but with contractors and unassociated entities, what do you think happens to management and payroll? Hint: a bit of chaos is very predictable.
    By the way, GAD, 200 out of 21,000 is less than 1%. Even the IRS would be envious...

  • David Hoffman

    First, Jobs are not given they're earned. Even when they're earned, you could have an idiot mismanage the program, fire people who know what they're doing, hire people fresh out of college who don't know what they're doing and then pay them for pretending to work (see Wapo's story last year this time by Nikita Stewart). Joseph Walsh is culturally insensitive, has NO media experience, and has grossly mismanaged the program lying to the media, the mayor and many of the other key stakeholders in the SYEP program such as parents (aka DC voters), businesses, kids and government agencies. There are 20.9% of the applicants who are fraudulently obtaining benefits from the program (3% margin of error rate). Do the math, and that's a lot of taxpayers money that could have been saved by an African-American Republican led initiative to thwart abuse of precious DC resources when they're needed most. I tried to work with Walsh but he's either scared, stupid, or has never felt the sting of angry voters gone wild. I'd love to meet with anyone in the Fenty adminitration who has any power to do anything except duck, hide, or fire people. Fenty has made DOES Director Walsh the face of job creation in DC, and he has made a serious mistake. It's about jobs, jobs, jobs! That's what will feed the DC revenue base NOT raising taxes on the wealthy. We can do better! Walsh has got to go! Oh, and for the furious or ocassionally inflamed, I'd love to meet you at the IG's office so we can all have a talk about what's really going. Be sure to invite Walsh and the media so they can put the cuffs on him why don't you? I am surprised Walsh is stupid enough to let me get this far. It was so much easier to let the kids who earned it go back to work. It was so much easier to address issues and fix them rather than hide or lie. There is fraud and abuse of the program and taxpayers money under Walsh's management of the SYEP program. He knew about it, covered it up and he's got to go.

  • candycane1

    Not to worry! This is going to be a mess all summer long!

  • Georgia Avenue Day

    downtown rez "By the way, GAD, 200 out of 21,000 is less than 1%. Even the IRS would be envious..."

    Get off my dick already and stay on Fenty's as you usual do. These are cases that were only found out about. How thorough is in DC government lead investigation really? And be advised that it was Fenty that asked the inspector general's office to conduct this investigation into the summer jobs the accuracy and impartially is questionable.

    Charles Willouby has proven himself to be a Fenty bitch just as yourself many times before.


    DC’s Work Ethic
    Dorothy Brizill,
    Monday will mark an important event that has come to represent the beginning of summer in the District. On Monday, 21,000 youths participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) are scheduled to report for work at their assigned work sites. In the past two years, the SYEP has been plagued by a series of problems — organizational and administrative problems at the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES, which oversees SYEP), overspending of the program’s budget (thirty million dollars overspent in 2008, twenty million dollars overspent in 2009), and paying youths who either weren’t eligible (more than two hundred non-DC residents participated in the program in 2008) or who hadn’t reported for work. In a June 15 press release,, the Fenty administration touted its preparation for this summer’s SYEP program, and announced “job assignments for over 21,000 District youth who are participating in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) for 2010.”
    However, there are early indications that the SYEP will have a very rocky kickoff on Monday. As of Friday, June 25, 104 “hosts,” or employers, had pulled out of participating in SYEP. Moreover, DOES site visits had not been completed to 53 community-based organizations that are serving as “hosts.” Especially troubling is the fact that DOES seems to be violating District law, which requires a security and criminal background check for any individual who will be in direct contact with youths under the age of eighteen. As of Friday, 53 individuals at charter schools, 121 government employees, 257 individuals at community-based organizations, and 5 private sector employers had not undergone the required security screening. In addition, DOES requires all “hosts” to attend an orientation meeting as a prerequisite to participating in the program. As of Friday, 97 community-based organizations, 126 private sector businesses, and 6 government offices had not attended the required orientation meeting.
    Over the weekend, DOES employees have made frantic telephone calls to hosts and to youths participating in SYEP. In anticipation of problems at many of the work sites, youths will be instructed to report to the Field House at Gallaudet University if a problem arises at their job assignment. According to sources, the Gallaudet site was chosen in an effort to keep “screaming kids” and their parents away from DOES’ offices on New York Avenue and H Street, NE, where the Fenty administration fears the news media will be waiting.

  • I’m impressed

    "In anticipation of problems at many of the work sites, youths will be instructed to report to the Field House at Gallaudet University if a problem arises at their job assignment. According to sources, the Gallaudet site was chosen in an effort to keep “screaming kids” and their parents away from DOES’ offices on New York Avenue and H Street, NE, where the Fenty administration fears the news media will be waiting."

    And, of course, the noise of those "screaming kids" won't be bothersome to the summer students at Gallaudet.


  • J

    The problems start at home- no direction and no rules. The dc government needs a plan to help these kids get direction and understand right from wrong. Its that simple

  • Mr. Bigglesworth

    I want to disagree with Georgia Ave, but unfortunately the comments are dead-on. In addition to what was already said, the kids are often unsupervised, leaving them to pick up those knives from a bush just outside their work site and bully others. I had to break up a couple of these skirmishes last summer, and in speaking so some of their victims it was all pretty routine. The major problem is that their supervisors often are incompetent and/or lazy themselves, so they don't know what to do with kids. Go to several rec centers and you will see "working" kids playing monopoly and looking at Perez Hilton's website. Even worse, those kids who want to work and gain skills for their resume face an uphill battle. Their supervisors want as many kids enrolled -- especially at rec centers -- so they can sign them in and claim them as rec center "users" rather than staff. Those attendance lists are used to evaluate the rec centers and their managers, so the managers will fight tooth and nail to keep as many SYEP kids "working" at their site.

    It's a bleak picture, and while the instinct is to blame the Fenty Admin, that would be a mistake. It is the fiefdom politics of the city's wards and their councilmembers like Marion Barry who enable this and protect the incompetent supervisors and raise hell when they are actually held accountable. I have a lot of beef with the Fenty Administration, but the one group I was impressed with was the understaffed group that pulls together the massive SYEP program. They literally work past midnight and often pull all nighters at the office to make sure every glitch is fixed and kids seeking transfers to better locations can be matched with a better situation. It's a nightmare tug of war between local branches and central HQ.

    Also, before you assume that all rec centers are mis-managed, understand that each center is different. The city council dismissed the last DPR chief to try to rein things in (and Fenty failed to support her when he could). Still, some shining spots like the rec center managers at Riggs Lasalle and Palisades deserve our praise. They bend over backwards to provide for the kids there, and they teach discipline and respect (which the kids may not be getting from home).

    DC is indeed a mess, but to clean this one up we need to start with the city council before we home in on the mayor's office.

  • My name is Summer

    It is not the first day of will eventually evolve into the first pay check or lack-thereof. The news media will find those unpaid workers...and it will all become news-fodder for the summer.

    The Summer Job program has been successful in the decades earliers...why heck, we did not even have these problems with Wimpy Williams. So I am at a lost for all of this drama.

    The child born in the 60's are now reaping the benefits of the summer job programs of the 70's and 80's. Merely because all of those months added up...will count towards ones retirement. Too that I say thank you very much.

    If all the whiners of the program would hire at least one youth...then a successful program would evolve, don't y'all think?

  • SuperS

    I would personally like to see all of the students learn how to fill out a resume and how to interview or take some basic math and english courses and get paid to do it. Because the way this is going they arn't learning anything anyway.

  • Georgia Avenue Day

    Mr. Bigglesworth regarding your comment," DC is indeed a mess, but to clean this one up we need to start with the city council before we home in on the mayor's office."

    The DC Summer Youth Employment Program is administered by the Dept of Employment Services which is under administrative control of the executive branch of DC government (aka the mayor's office) NOT the legislative branch (the city council.)

    Any changes to the youth summer jobs program related to administrative polices & procedures (i.e. improving placements, making it a compeitive process to get a job, improving information management, offering soft skills training to youth before they are hired) would need to come from the mayor's office.

  • Georgia Avenue Day

    And since we're discussing 21,000 kids who were just given jobs and didn't have to earn them, why not name all of the under-qualified Fenty fraternity brothers, wives of fraternity brothers and running buddies who were handed million dollar contracts, appointed to boards and/or handed 6-figure salaries compliments of DC taxpayers:

    Keith Lomax, Sinclair Skinner, Omar Karim, Skip Richardson, Jason Turner, Stacie Turner, Omar Nour, Max Maurice, James Byles, everyone in the Deputy mayor's office for economic development, Lori Lee, Gennet Purcell, William Purcell (who was recently disbarred in Maryland), Greg O'Dell, David Jannorne, George Tyrone Simpson, Victor Reinoso, Peter Nickles (a longtime running buddy of Fenty's father)....

    NONE of the individuals above went through any compeitive process to get their jobs, contracts or appointments to various boards. Perhaps the youth summer works program really is a training ground for what its like to get into DC government after all!

  • Mr. Bigglesworth

    Last year efforts to terminate lazy, incompetent (and often altogether absent) supervisors -- some of whom were known to be drinking and/or under the influence of other substances on the job -- was actually met with CRITICISM and some city council members like Barry moved to rehire these people. I witnessed this firsthand, as did well-meaning, hard working SYEP kids who complained about it. So how do you expect things to be fixed by the mayor's office when the city council prevents executive action?

    If you want to criticize, don't choose a side. Choose right and wrong and call it what it is. When politicians do something right, applaud. When they do something stupid or corrupt, give 'em hell. But don't start throwing blame unless you are ready to do so with an even hand, regardless of personal sentiments toward a given politician.

    The SYEP has come a long way from the nightmare it was when I was kid. I know more than a few hard working kids who can't count on the lights working at home who used that money to pay utility bills and book bills at college. Given years past, that their paychecks even arrived for this to occur is worthy of a hallelujah ;-)

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  • downtown rez

    GAD, MrBigglesworth:
    SYEP is the 3rd rail of DC politics.
    The first two are the right to have your criminal record expunged at 21 (thanks Phil!) and the right to park wherever you want if attending church (I have to blame everyone on that).