Return to Headlines

PPS receives $600,000 grant for Summer Youth Employment Program

On Tuesday June 9, 2020, Peoria Public Schools officials and community leaders hosted a press conference to announce a newly funded initiative called the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), which was designed to build a bridge between young people and local businesses.


The SYEP initiative was developed in response to the impact that coronavirus had on local economies and employment, with a particular focus on youth employment. State legislators allocated funding to support jobs programming for young people who come from low-income households, ages 16-24, using a COVID-19 related grant. The program structure provides grant funding for business owners to hire new youth employees, and gives local applicants access to skill-building opportunities. It also offers workforce readiness seminars from community leaders. 


In total, 220 students and youth ages 16-24 will be involved in the program. The $614,000 grant will cover the paychecks for each young worker, meaning it is no cost to the businesses to hire these young employees.


“We built this program to accomplish two things: to help businesses recover from losses the encountered from the pandemic, and to address particularly high youth unemployment rates.” Representative Gordon-Booth said, “We know people are doing everything they can to restore their businesses. This initiative will help them supplement their hiring budgets, and it directly connects business-owners with motivated young people looking for employment. It’s a win-win strategy.”


Local partners include Peoria Public Schools, the Tri-County Urban League, community leaders, and interested local business owners.


“The Summer Youth Employment Program offers businesses the means to connect with our students and assist them in developing workplace skills and gaining employment experience,” Desmoulin-Kherat said. “We welcome this unexpected opportunity to further our priority as a district to offer meaningful work-based learning. Every business owner in the area should be excited about this program”


Press conference attendees included Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Tri-County Urban League President Laraine Bryson, State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, PPS board members, Garry Moore, State Senator Dave Koehler and several student applicants.