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Tarpon's reinstated Youth Employment Program a success

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Published:   |   Updated: July 30, 2014 at 03:00 PM

— A rebooted program to provide municipal summertime employment opportunities to the city's high school students got off to a successful start, according to both employees and employer.

“Anytime we can do something that's going to showcase our young people and give them opportunities to be successful, that's a great thing,” Mayor David Archie said of the initiative earlier this month during a regular city commission meeting.

The Youth Employment Program is designed as a cooperative effort between the city and high school and allows students to apply for paying summer jobs within various city departments.

Commissioner Townsend Tarapani introduced the idea last year, and commissioners agreed it was a mutually beneficial program to reinstate. The city gets the youths' labor and the students receive hourly wages as well as work experience to attach to resumes and college applications.

“This summer intern program was something that has been done in the past but hadn't been done in the city for a long time,” Tarapani said. “To my knowledge this has been a really successful program. There's been a lot of buy-in from the students and I think everyone who participates in the program thoroughly enjoys it.”

At Tarapani's suggestion, the program is designed for students entering their senior year of high school so they can use it on college applications.

Youths are given the opportunity to apply for positions within a number of departments and handle various day-to-day duties. Two student-employees working with the police department's Cops 'n Kids Program attended city commission meeting, and a video produced by four others was shown to those in attendance.

“I feel the experience has been great,” said City Clerk Irene Jacobs, who's been overseeing a student-employee in her office this summer. “She's been wonderful to have. She's working with our records and she's learning a lot about scanning and back-scanning.”

Funding for the program began this past year at $10,885.

“I think it's been so successful that during our budget discussions in the coming weeks we'll be discussing potentially increasing the budget for this program to reach out to even more students or lengthen the time frame with the internship,” Tarapani said.

Reporter Eric Horchy can be reached at (727) 815-1071 or ehorchy@suncoastnews.com.

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