Adolescent perspectives of the ecological impact of a Summer Youth Employment Program
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided over a billion dollars to state workforce investment systems for creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth and every state was responsible for developing structured programs to connect youth to employers who would not only provide income for the youth, but also aid in their occupational skill development (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 2009). The Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas (WASCK) developed the Area IV Kansas Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEP), under the direction Congress and the Kansas Department of Commerce, and over two summers created over seven hundred job opportunities for disadvantaged youth. This study, through ecological qualitative methods, gathered the perspectives of ten adolescents, 18 or older, who participated in the 2010 federally funded SYEP, through the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas. These personal stories using the framework of Ecological Systems Theory and the lens of Social Capital, supported the premises that (a) learning the ecosystems of individuals can provide insights into their daily lives, their history, and their lived experiences in a way that provides a window into how services and prevention efforts can be targeted toward them; (b) people make a difference in the lives of others and supportive institutional agents can have a profound effect on one‘s ability to gain social capital and work toward goal setting and attainment; and (c) programs, such as the SYEP, make a difference in the lives of youth and help them make connections to positive institutional agents, learn workplace dynamics and dialogue, and provide them with a entrance into areas of the workforce that have historically been preserved for the higher level working class and middle class.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Education Leadership