Funding for a summer youth employment program and leadership institute was approved Tuesday after an amendment reducing the initial amount requested.

Mayor Jerome Prince will get about $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the program which expects to employ up to 300 Gary youth ages 14 To 21 with part-time work with the city and its business partners. Participants will receive pay up to $15 per hour. The initial request was approximately $1.5 million.

Mileak Harper, city controller, said 240 youth so far have signed up for the program. As part of the request, approximately $928,000 is allocated for salaries, with $102,000 for expenses. The administration reduced the amount requested for participation incentives, such as gift cards and e-books for raffles, and reduced marketing expenses to $5,000.

The program funding as approved will be able to employ 300 youth. Prince originally sought about $1.5 million for the summer youth employment and leadership academy, a component designed to help participants develop the skills that will move them forward into adulthood and pave a pathway for success. Participants will work Monday through Thursday and participate in the leadership academy programming on Friday.

Council Vice President Tai Adkins, D-4th, said the deadline to apply for the positions has been extended to May 28. Adkins worked with Harper to trim the program’s cost.

“Those who are interested in being a part if the program have an additional 10 days,” Adkins said.

Councilman Clorius Lay, D-At Large, said the program was opened up for all city youth to participate, but it has to be a first-come, first-served situation. He said the city has way more than 300 youth.

“We really can’t do it for everyone,” Lay said.

Councilman Mike Brown, D-At Large, said he was excited to vote for the program that provides a chance for participants to get educated about the work experience while putting revenue in the pockets of city youth.

Council President William Godwin, D-1st, said the council was not trying to delay approval of the program after the mayor sounded the alarm at the May 4 meeting that holding back funding approval could jeopardize participation.

The administration first made its request to fund the program in April. The council referred the request back to committee three times before its Tuesday approval.

He said officials including Adkins were working with the city controller to “get it right.”
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