The Common Council enabled the Milwaukee Jobs Act to take two more significant steps toward putting city residents back to work Wednesday, approving funding that increases the number of positions in the LEAP program and dramatically expands the Neighborhood Ambassador program.
“The Milwaukee Jobs Act continues to make a difference in the lives of city residents who have been affected the most by the economic recession,” primary sponsor Alderman Ashanti Hamilton said. “I’m grateful to my colleagues on the Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett’s administration for the support that has enabled this young program to become so successful so soon.”
One measure (file number 121463) approved by the Common Council this week allocates $10,000 in additional funding to the city’s LEAP (Learn, Earn and Achieve with Police) program. LEAP places teens aged 17 to 19 in paid summer internships with participating companies, where they spend 20 hours per week gaining valuable on-the-job experience Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, interns participate in the Milwaukee Police Department STOP (Students Talking it Over with Police) program, which is designed to improve communication and build trust between police and teens.
The infusion of $10,000 in funding will allow the LEAP program to expand from its inaugural class of 17 last summer to 48 in 2013.
“Expanding LEAP will further increase our base of skilled workers and prepare more young people for the workplace, giving them the skills and confidence they need to be job ready,” said Alderman Willie C. Wade, one of the creators of the LEAP program. He noted that some of the inaugural LEAP graduates were offered full-time employment opportunities by participating employers.
In the other piece of Jobs Act legislation approved Wednesday, council members expanded a component of the Transitional Jobs Program known as the Neighborhood Ambassador Program. The Department of City Development-administered program will award $58,168 in grant funds to a service provider that will start or expand neighborhood ambassador programs similar to Downtown BID No. 21’s “Clean Sweep” initiative.
The grant funds provide for hiring 24 neighborhood ambassadors at a pay rate of $10 per hour and two crew leaders at a pay rate of $13 per hour. The Milwaukee residents hired for those positions must qualify as being unemployed or underemployed, and will work two six-week sessions starting in April and June picking up litter, cleaning up graffiti and removing snow as needed in various BIDs.
Participants will also receive assistance with resume writing, job skills and with applying for jobs online. Applications for the positions will be accepted in March.