- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A partnership between the city of Omaha and the Empowerment Network hopes to have jobs for a record number of teenagers this summer to teach life and employment skills.

The 2017 kick-off for the program, known as Step-Up Omaha, was held Wednesday morning. Step-Up aims to pair 14- to 21-year-olds with community businesses to provide summer jobs, vocational education, career exploration opportunities and internships so participants utilize their summers and stay out of trouble.

“Idle hands make busy work in other areas,” former Omaha Police Detective Terea Negron said.

Step-Up helped nearly 470 young adults secure summer jobs or training in 2016, according to program director Jami Anders-Kemp. This year, the eight-week program hopes to help 600 kids.

Summer crime rates have decreased since the program started in 2008, and the city has taken notice.

“It will keep a lot of kids out of trouble. It kept me for sure out of trouble,” 17-year-old TeAzia Hardy said. The Omaha North High student, who wants to be a veterinarian, worked at Life Care Center last summer and said she’s looking forward to whatever this summer’s job may be.

Mayor Jean Stothert is pledging to double the program’s funding for next year to $1 million. Anders-Kemp said that in order to reach the goal of employing 600 kids, the program needs to recruit more than 100 employer participants.

“Help us get the word out,” she said. “We’re calling on all businesses, large and small, churches, nonprofits to invest in the future.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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