Nonprofit reacts to job cuts for at-risk youth - KPTV - FOX 12

Nonprofit reacts to job cuts for at-risk youth

Posted: Updated: Jan 29, 2013 10:31 PM

A Portland nonprofit that places young people in internships is reeling from cuts to the Summer Works program.

For various reasons, students like Ryan Marlow end up at Rosemary Anderson High School - an alternative school in north Portland that gives at-risk kids a path to overcome their challenges.

"In high school, I had a rocky start," said Marlow. "I feel without the support here, I wouldn't be the person who I am today.

It was through the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, housed at the school, that he was placed in a summer internship with the city of Portland.

"It taught me discipline; it's taught me respect," Marlow said.

But fewer young people, who are ages 16 to 21, in the program will have that opportunity this summer because of budget cuts at the mayor's office.

"There are far more kids that want to work, that are interested in work and need to work than there are jobs," said Joe McFerrin II, CEO of the Portland OIC.

McFerrin said the estimated 100 jobs lost are 25 percent of all the jobs in the Summer Works program.

"I like to think that the best social service project in America is a job," said McFerrin. "With employment opportunities for our kids, it gives them hope, it gives them confidence, it inspires them and it makes education relevant."

Mcferrin says making education relevant is an integral part of the OIC's success and hopes the mayor will reconsider.

The mayor's spokesman said it was a tough decision, and every good cause can't be funded because of the projected $25 million shortfall in the general fund.

He said the mayor hopes to be able to lobby for other sources of funding for the summer internship program - perhaps from the federal government or from the private sector.

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