Funding for Youth Program Scarce

by Danielle Cotterman on May 25, 2011 at 4:30 am

The jobless numbers seem encouraging here in Muskingum County. Unemployment rates are down from March to April, but so is funding for a summer youth program through the Muskingum Opportunity Center .

Executive Director, Bob Mercer said it’s designed to give hish-risk kids the motivation to graduate and prepare them for future careers. The program typically hires 200 kids, but due to less funding, only about 90 kids will be given the opportunity this year.

"Our programs are full, so we’ve had alot of questions about summer jobs," said Mercer. "And I guess, what I’m here to say is that there won’t be the summer jobs that we have had in the past. We are going to look at kids that are enrolled in our program already and try to provide an opportunity for them."

Mercer encourages kids in the program to start looking for employment on their own. He said, if they work with him this year it’s not an option next year.

"I dont know what the percentages are, but very successful, what we are finding is that kids start to believe in themselves and they also realize there are opportunities beyond high school," said Mercer. "Whether it be a short-term training at the adult center here at Muskingum County, or going on to Zane State or University. It’s a pretty good percentage actually, it would surprise you."

Mercer say, the Opportunity Center will continue to look at ways to improve. They are currently partnering with Zane State College, which has recently received a department labor grant for clean energy. This partnership will provide kids in the program who want to go into alternative energy the opportunity.