“Delegate Mary Washington was instrumental in making monthly passes available to young workers for just $22.” That’s what the press release said and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the people who shared in the heavy lifting to make this happen.
Yesterday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a press release about a new partnership I helped establish for Baltimore City youth employed in YouthWorks to access a deeply discounted monthly bus pass. She says, “Early work experiences are vital to helping the next generation of jobseekers form important work habits, such as arriving on time prepared for a productive day. I am pleased that our partnership with the MTA and Delegate Washington has resulted in giving YouthWorks participants access to affordable, reliable transportation to and from their summer jobs.”
Removing Barriers to Youth Employment
Last summer, I attended a meeting of the Baltimore City Council and heard testimony from scores of young people about their desire for summer and after-school jobs and the challenges they face securing them. In particular, low-income youth and their families do not have access to cars and struggle to afford transit fare. That night, I made a commitment to them and to their adult allies that I would do all I could to remove transportation barriers for youth employment in our City. I have long been an outspoken advocate for expanding the access to and the quality of youth jobs and out-of-school activities; before coming to Annapolis, I designed and piloted two summer and after-school green jobs programs that served hundreds of Baltimore City youth. Both programs continue today.
Several months ago I reached out to the Maryland Transit Administration about developing a pilot program to provide reduced-cost transit fare for young people employed through Baltimore City’s YouthWorks program. Since then, I remained in constant contact with the Administrator of the MTA, Ralign Wells, and with Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s Office of Employment Development, which coordinates the YouthWorks program. Through a series of conversations, brainstorming and planning sessions, together we implemented an innovative local and state partnership specifically targeted to mitigate the barriers to sustaining employment facing Baltimore City youth.
YES WE DID.
Under this initiative, YouthWorks participants were offered the opportunity to purchase an MTA standard full-fare monthly pass to be used for the month of July at a reduced rate of $22, approximately 1/3 of the standard cost. Additionally, they do not have to pay for the pass until they receive their first paycheck. Over 1,900 young people took advantage of the program. I am excited to continue my partnership with the MTA and MOED to grow this program in future years.
This week marks a huge step to removing barriers to employment for our young people; however there is still much to do.
The benefits of gainful employment for high school students are many: data shows that employed youth are less likely to engage in criminal behavior and more likely to succeed in school. Moreover, summer jobs prepare youth for the future; they boost college applications and resumes and they give young people the opportunity to experience their prospective career paths. However, for many young people, securing reliable transportation to and from work continues to be one of the top barriers to employment.
That is why I pledge to work tirelessly with our state and local officials to help our children and young adults achieve their educational and employment goals.
Mary L. Washington, Delegate