LaGuardia’s Summer Youth Employment Program Impacts Thousands of Young New Yorkers

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (March 29, 2023) — For more than 35 years, LaGuardia Community College/CUNY has shaped the lives and careers of thousands of young adults across New York City through its Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Sponsored by the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development, SYEP is the nation’s largest youth employment program, with providers in all five boroughs.

Through SYEP, New Yorkers ages 14–24 receive opportunities for career exploration and paid work experience. Over 125,000 individuals have been served by LaGuardia’s SYEP since it was started at the college in 1988, according to Claudia Baldonedo, Ed.D., executive director of Youth Workforce Development Initiatives and an adjunct associate professor of business technology at LaGuardia.

“I’m enormously proud of the impact that the Summer Youth Employment Program at LaGuardia continues to have on the lives of those served by it,” Dr. Baldonedo said. “Not only does SYEP give many their first-ever job, but it introduces young people to careers they were unaware of, and to opportunities they didn’t think were available to them or had been discouraged from pursuing. By opening a young person’s mind to possibilities, I’ve seen our program have a dramatic impact on so many.”

In 2023, LaGuardia’s SYEP is expected to serve nearly 4,000 New Yorkers ages 14–24. Interested individuals can APPLY HERE. Deadline to apply is March 31, 2023.

Participants ages 16–24, selected by lottery from over 8,000 applicants, will be placed in six-week paid summer internships in either private companies or public institutions, including LaGuardia Community College and community-based organizations. Participants ages 14 and 15 will receive stipends for project-based learning, where they will aim to complete a project or build a product within a six-week timeframe in July and August.

Additional SYEP programs are designed for specific populations, such as the Emerging Leaders Program, which serves youth ages 14–24 who are homeless, living in shelters, in or have aged out of the foster care system, or were formerly incarcerated. The program aims to empower youth and help them navigate life’s challenges through project-based learning and paid internships.

SYEP CareerREADY serves students at International and Middle College High Schools, Chelsea Career, and Technical Education High School in Manhattan.

Emely Naxi, age 16, of Jackson Heights, Queens, participated in CareerREADY in the summer of 2022 as a rising junior at Middle College High School. She request to work remote and was placed with Techie Youth, a website for young people to learn about entrepreneurship, where her job was to review informational videos and write reports on how she would apply lessons in the videos to her life.

Emely, came to realize she prefers working in-person and said her experience will help shape her future career in accounting or finance. “I really like math, so that’s a key point for me,” she said. “I like dealing with numbers.”

In fall 2022, Emely participated in CareerREADY Work, Learn & Grow, an SYEP program for youth ages 16–19 who have previously participated in SYEP and are interested in paid internships during the school year. She was placed with LaGuardia’s SYEP, working with Michelle Fang, budget analyst. “I learned so much from Ms. Fang,” Emely said. “Not only did I learn about finance and budgeting, but I learned that being a good team member means being willing to jump in and help coworkers whenever needed.”

Emely’s Work, Learn & Grow internship ended in March 2023, and she was hired as a part-time office worker with LaGuardia’s SYEP, working up to 10 hours a week throughout the school year. She hopes to do another paid SYEP internship in summer 2023.

Emely plans to graduate from Middle College High School in 2024 with her high school diploma and her Associate of Science in Liberal Arts: Math & Science from LaGuardia. Emely, who will be the first in her immediate family to earn a college degree, hopes to go to Baruch College for her bachelor’s.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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