GRYC is a youth service agency that has been an employer for SYEP for 33 years. Since 2000, it has worked with the city as a program sponsor, helping place youth in summer jobs across the five boroughs. Currently, the council oversees 70 work sponsor sites.
Through the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), GRYC, located at 59-03 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, is able to hire roughly 900 of its 2,000 youth applicants each year, including 100 who are 14 to 15 years old and 800 from ages 16 to 24.
“We started out with 300 people, and today we serve 900,” said Beverly McBeth, SYEP program coordinator for GRYC. “They work as day camp counselors, retail clerks at Walgreens and CVS, at Wyckoff Hospital, the Parks Department, Johnny Rockets, the Marriott at La Guardia, neighborhood businesses up and down Myrtle Ave., senior centers, and we work with the libraries also.”
Acceptance into the program used to be based on household income, but that is no longer the case. Now, anyone from 14 to 24 is encouraged to apply. According to DYCD, just less than 30,000 youth were employed through SYEP in 2012, with roughly 130,000 total applicants.
Though the program only lasts for six weeks from July to mid-August, planning lasts year-round. McBeth said a big part of her challenge as program director is matching job opportunities with the type of jobs youth are interested in having.
“The things I look for in a potential job site are that it’s interesting, safe, provides a wide variety of experiences, the supervisors are excited about the program, young people can learn from it, and there is a potential for hiring after the program ends,” McBeth said.
Bob Monahan, president of GRYC, is a staunch advocate of SYEP, pointing out that many of his full-time staff started out in the program.
“One of the greatest success stories that we have is one of the directors of our programs who started SYEP at 14. He’s now going on 28 or 29 and he’s been with us the entire time,” Monahan said. “These kids are coming to us because, number one, they love the meaningful experience. They get their feet planted here and they take deep root.”
McBeth said that the only issue they are really having at GRYC is that they can’t place as many kids in jobs as they would like due to lack of funding, mentioning that DYCD is always looking for corporate sponsors to help pay the $8 per hour wages of those accepted into the program.
“Anything that can be done that would get this program more money, that would be great,” McBeth said.