Mayor's Office Press Release

City of Houston Awarded $150,000 Grant from the National League of Cities to Promote Equitable Career Opportunities for Youth

January 12, 2022 -- The City of Houston has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the National League of Cities (NLC), as part of a new initiative to make true economic opportunity a reality for youth and young adults who are marginalized from quality education and career opportunities. In addition to the monetary award, Houston joins the five other cities from across the nation who will also receive specialized assistance from NLC’s staff and other national experts to advance the city’s efforts to expand STEM career pathways for marginalized young people.

“This award is a big win for young people. They will benefit from significant career development opportunities made possible by this grant,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “These are children who would otherwise go without, now having experiences and connections they never thought possible. I commend the National League of Cities for their continued commitment to the future leaders of this country.”

With the grant money, the Mayor’s Office of Education looks forward to targeted support of the Hire Houston Youth (HHY) program by connecting diverse opportunity youth to the unique STEM and technology-focused workforce development. The program connects these students to job opportunities in the Houston market as well as the employer partners for whom we custom design employment and youth empowerment programs.

Since its inception in 2016, Hire Houston Youth has touched the lives of over 30,000 young Houstonians by linking them to job and internship opportunities. To date, HHY has worked with 102 corporate & non-profit partners to facilitate job opportunities for Houston youth to advance their skills, explore career interests, and empower themselves financially. If you are youth 16-24 years old or an employer willing to participate, please visit Hire Houston Youth.

"Our youth deserve educational opportunities that connect them to the local workforce and career exploration, so they can make informed choices about their future career path in Houston’s dynamic economy. Houston youth will only further the amazing things they will accomplish, thanks to this grant," said Olivera Jankovska, Director of the Mayor's Office of Education.

Marginalized youth and young adults are disproportionately represented among industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as healthcare, hospitality, service, childcare, and agriculture. These young people, who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), are low income, or are disconnected from school and/or the workforce have limited access to quality educational and career experiences.

Students graduating from high school in 2020 and 2021 face particularly unique and long-term risks. Since the Great Recession, nearly 95 percent of all new jobs have gone to workers with at least some college education; yet, as a result of the pandemic, the likelihood of youth pursuing a four-year degree decreased 23 percent between May 2020 and September 2021 – down to 48 percent from 71 percent.

“Educational attainment is directly linked to a city’s economic vitality and well-being, and there is a great opportunity for municipal leaders to help youth link their education to meaningful careers,” said Dr. Robert Blaine, Senior Executive and Director, Institute for Youth, Education and Families. “The National League of Cities is proud to work with the City of Houston to develop new career opportunities and supports for marginalized young people in Houston.”

The Youth Excel initiative runs from January 2022 through June 2023 and is generously supported by the Siemens Foundation. You can learn more at: https://www.nlc.org/initiative/youth-excel.