Summer Jobs Outlook Cold for Poor

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Cincinnati, a hotspot of urban unrest last month, faces "a mess of a summer," forecasts a local youth worker who laments that the city is unable to operate a summer jobs program for youth.

The fervid passion of community protests over police shootings and clashes with officers have "intensified the likelihood of mischief by too many youngsters with too much free time," contends Kenneth Toney, who, as executive director of IMPACT Over-the-Rhine, works in the neighborhood where the bulk of the turmoil took place.

Cincinnati's trouble comes at a time when local communities will no longer receive a "stand-alone" federal grant to operate the now-defunct Summer Youth Employment and Training Program (SYETP) - a government mainstay, in one form or another, since 1964. According to the National League of Cities, the program provided enough assistance to employ 500,000 youth in 1999, its last stand-alone year.

With the President Bill Clinton-driven creation of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, SYETP has been phased out in favor of a year-round federal funding approach that requires communities to spend 30 percent of their grants on out-of-school youth.

During the changeover last year (when many cities and states still had unspent SYETP funds), Marion Pines, director of the Baltimore-based Sar Levitan Center for Social Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said, "WIA is going to take some time, but it is a bigger challenge by making us deal with continuity of care, academic competencies and out-of-school kids."

"But," comments Sam Halperin, senior fellow at the D.C.-based American Youth Policy Forum, "the irony is that the budget