Governor announces Summer Youth Works initiative

Adriana Colindres

A summer jobs program slated to launch on Tuesday will put 10,000 young Illinoisans to work through Labor Day, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Thursday in Chicago.

The Summer Youth Works initiative, which is meant for individuals ages 13 to 22, will be in place throughout the state.

In Peoria, a combined 300 jobs will be available through Catholic Charities of Peoria, New Hope International Ministries of Hope, Proctor Community Center, Boys and Girls Club of Peoria, Church of the Living God Temple and Word of Faith Christian Center, said Department of Human Services spokesman Tom Green.

Participants will work 20 to 25 hours a week, performing community-service tasks such as cleaning lots, planting trees and assisting the elderly.

Some participants will learn "pre-professional skills" by working with transportation engineers and other full-time workers, Green said.

The project’s $14 million cost is being split among DHS, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Transportation, he said. The DHS funding is included in the budget for the fiscal year that will end on Monday, but the other two agencies’ funding is in the still-pending state budget for the fiscal year that starts Tuesday, Green said.

Working hours and pay will vary, depending on the age of participants.

Individuals who are ages 13 to 15 will work for 20 hours a week and receive a stipend of $250 at the end of their experience. Those who are ages 16 to 18 will work 20 hours a week and earn $8 an hour. Youths from 19 to 22 years old will work 25 hours a week and earn $10 an hour.

"Programs like this mean a lot for communities that are suffering from crime and increased violence — communities that need our help," the governor said in a news release.

Young people who are interested in the program can get more information by calling (800) 843-6154, or the TTY number at (888) 614-2386.

Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or