A summer jobs program for Sanford youth got a new life this week when the Sanford city commissioners agreed to provide $30,000 for the program.

The Youth Empowerment Leadership Development Academy (YEDLA) provides summer jobs and job skills  classes for high school students who come from low income families. Funding was originally provided by the state, but for the last three years the city of Sanford has supported the program through Community Development Block Grant funds.

Gov. Jeb Bush presents Sanford City Commissioner Velma Williams with a check for the city's Goldsboro Front Porch program in 2001. Funding for a youth jobs program used to be provided by the state, but now local governments must find ways to fund the program. Photo by Tommy Vincent.
Gov. Jeb Bush presents Sanford City Commissioner Velma Williams with a check for the city’s Goldsboro Front Porch program in 2001. Funding for a youth jobs program used to be provided by the state, but now local governments must find ways to fund the program. Photo by Tommy Vincent.

That money was not available this year, and the program was in jeopardy of being suspended for a year. City manager Norton Bonaparte informed commissioners that he has about $30,000 available in his contingency budget that could be used for the program.

That’s about half what the YELDA was funded at last year when 43 students participated. Still, Vernon McQueen says the last-minute funding will help 20 students.

“There are not enough learning opportunities for our kids during the summer,” said McQueen, chairman of the Goldsboro Front Porch Council, which helps coordinate the program. “Through the YELDA program, these kids get real work experience, plus it broadens their horizons and helps them with their professional development.”

Students work about 15 hours per week at $9 per hour at local businesses who partner with YELDA. Past business partners include CPH Inc., engineering firm, Fossitt Therapy Services and Dr. Willie Sherman’s dental office.

In addition to the job, students – and their parents – are required to attend workshops to develop life skills such as financial management, social relationships, time management and other skills to enhance employability, said McQueen.

The YELDA program was created by former governor Jab Bush’s Office of Urban Opportunity in 2006. It was part of Bush’s community revitalization program, better know as the Front Porch Florida Initiative. Sanford was one of 20 cities chosen to be a Front Porch community.

Since Bush office, state funding has not been available for the YELDA and local governments have picked up the tab.

Samford City Commissioner Patty Mahany said Career Source of Central Florida has preliminarily agreed to help fund the program next summer.

– by Dan Ping

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