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Summer is almost over, but the city is determined to reach its goal of 10,000 seasonal jobs for Boston teenagers. This year has been tougher than usual to line up employment. But the push is still on, even if it’s only for a couple more weeks.
Drive through the streets of many Boston neighborhoods and on any given day you’re likely to find teenagers just hanging out. Teenagers such as 17-year-old Tim Mazobere of Roxbury.
"I don’t have anything to do. I don’t have a job. Nothing much to do but hang out with friends and play basketball," he said.
Mazobere tried to get a summer job, and his mom was pushing him, too.
"'You can get your own clothes, you don’t have to depend on me, get your own cellphone, I’ve never had a cellphone,'" he said his mom would tell him. "She doesn’t want to pay for that kind of stuff. She wants me to be independent."
“The difference between Boston and other major American cities is that we have a business community that is willing to hire teenagers and bring them into professional workplaces."15-year-old Jeremiah English
Mazobere had a job this time last year. It was easier the past two summers when federal stimulus money was available. But that’s all changed, said Boston Mayor Tomas Menino.
"Why is this difficult, because the federal government is not a player anymore. They don’t give up any resources," Menino said.
Last year, $2.5 million in federal funding supported 1,600 summer jobs in Boston. The mayor said the loss of that money is only part of the problem this year.
"You know, the economy is different. Some of those jobs that were part-time jobs are full-time jobs today," Menino said.
Menino scrambled, and with $4 million from the city, $2 million from the state and almost $2 million more from businesses and foundations, the city has almost matched the jobs filled the last two years.
"Boston is the only city in the country bringing the private sector in to the equation," said Neil Sullivan, executive director of the Boston Private Industry Council.
Sullivan has been working with City Hall since February to make summer jobs available. He said Boston is producing far more summer jobs for teens than cities two to three times larger.
"The difference between Boston and other major American cities is that we have a business community that is willing to hire teenagers and bring them into professional workplaces," said Jeremiah English, who works at a community center on Mildred Avenue, a few blocks from his home in Mattapan. The 15-year-old started the job a week and a half ago, and he just got his first paycheck.
"The positives are: you have money for the school year, you have money to pay for sports equipment for school, you have money to do school clothes shopping," he said.
And English — who attends Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School through the Metco program — said it's not just about the money.
"I do believe that jobs come with a certain skill set. And you learn different things through your job, like how to be on time to places and not be late.
"Having a job does teach responsibility. I wake up on my own now, I even wake up my older brother."
His older brother is also working through Boston's summer employment program. The city is 200 shy of its 10,000 job goal. And, just weeks before school starts, it's still adding jobs.
This program aired on August 9, 2011.
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