Sam Liccardo
Former Mayor | San Jose, CA

SJ Youth Works

Idea Category: Jobs and Entrepreneurship


Youth unemployment remains as high as 20% in some San Jose neighborhoods while a troublesome trend shows an increase in the number of younger youth (14 – 16 year old's) committing burglaries and other crimes. The City’s gang- and crime-impacted neighborhoods fall short in opportunities for youth to be safe, engaged and productive over the summer months and gainful employment is a seemingly unreachable concept. A program that has long-targeted at-risk youth in these neighborhoods—The Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force—has long addressed the social, health and safety aspects confronted by at-risk youth and traditional youth employment programs have focused on the 18 and older group. An age-appropriate youth employment program for younger youth had not been attempted. 


This summer, Mayor Liccardo helped launch SJ Youth Works, a five-week summer youth employment program for younger, at-risk youth recruited through the public and nonprofit agencies already supporting them. SJ Youth Works improves on an already-existing youth employment program with the priority of addressing the reality faced by, and the needs of younger, at-risk youth. The methodology is one that coordinates with the support services already available through public and private continuum-of-care agencies like the County government’s social services programs and probation department or non-profits like TeenForce and Unity Care. By exposing younger youth to well-supported employment experiences that are supplemented with case management, life-skills and financial literacy training, SJ Youth Works is creating pathways for these youth to envision a career while making some money. Youth employment programs, even for younger at-risk youth, have been shown to decrease the likelihood that the youth will become an offender and decrease recidivism rates for those that have. 

More Idea’s From Sam Liccardo

Made in San Jose

Idea Category: Jobs and Entrepreneurship | Funding Source: ARP

New American Boost

Idea Category: Defending Democracy | Funding Source: ARP