Why We Live Here: The Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program

Why We Live Here: The Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program

  • Posted on: 17 May 2012
  • By: bevmire

2011 MSYEP "Best of the Best" winner Khalid Allen of MIT/Terrascope Youth Radio with then-Mayor David Maher

If you’re the parent of a teenager, or a teenager yourself, you’ve probably participated in, or know someone who has participated in the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP). MSYEP is one of the best reasons to live here: we pull together every summer to contribute to our teens’ growth.

Managed by the Office of Workforce Development, MSYEP started out of the mayor’s office in the mid-1970s as an agency that would provide young people 14-18 with meaningful employment. Not only does MSYEP provide jobs, it provides the support our teens need to navigate through professional and academic life.

According to George Hinds, the Senior Youth Programs Manager, MSYEP expects to provide jobs for over 900 young people in over 130 worksites as diverse as our city: youth centers, community schools, and the department of public works, and the New England Aquarium. Through the Cambridge Youth Programs, a dozen teens will work on campus at MIT for Terrascope Youth Radio, and others will work in many of the offices in City Hall.

You're probably wondering where the money comes from, especially in these difficult economic times. The answer is from us, the City of Cambridge itself with additional state funding, and some private sector employers hire teens directly.

The not-so-hidden beauty of MSYEP is its commitment to contributing to our young peoples’ growth. During the six-week program teens may participate in five paid college tours, and they earn extra money by participating in a financial education workshop offered by the Cambridge Savings Bank. Also, each summer MSYEP hires counselors, many of whom participated in the program, to plan and deliver weekly job-readiness workshops. The counselors also provide mentorship, and act as liaisons between the employer and the youth employee.

And it’s not all work! Each summer MSYEP holds events that provide space for participating teens to have fun and get to know each other. There’s an ice cream social, a basketball tournament, a closing dance. The City and Harvard University add a cross-generational element when MSYEP teens represent the program at the annual Senior Citizens Picnic.

The summer culminates with an event recognizing 65 teens from across the program who are honored as the “Best of the Best.” Teens chosen are outstanding employees, or those who have demonstrated marked improvement from the beginning of the summer.

The true “Best of the Best” is the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Providing meaningful employment for our young people, and contributing to their growth, is the most important reason we live here.

Photo: Kenneth Bowers


Thank you for highlighting this great program; Cambridge has a lot to be proud of. I was at the Senior Picnic yesterday and the teens were surely appreciated and seemed to be having a lot of fun.