Meet our partners: Jacqulyn Holley-Young, Senior Employment Specialist at Richmond YouthWORKS


Title: Senior Employment Specialist at Richmond YouthWORKS

What is the Summer Youth Employment Program?

Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is part of YouthWORKS, a program sponsored by the City of Richmond that provides services to at-risk youth. SYEP has been a staple of the YouthWORKS program for over a decade, providing career and educational opportunities to hundreds of youths between the ages of 16 and 21.

How does SYEP work?

The process starts with an application and assessment in Math and English, which helps ensure participants are placed at a job that best fits their personal development goals. Participants also complete a handful of workshops, including money management, basic financial literacy skills, work place etiquette, communication, conflict resolution and so on. We equip our students with all of the skills necessary to succeed.

Where do students work over the summer?

We have students in many sectors, including nonprofits, city government, outdoor worksites, retail and child development. We also have a wonderful partnership with UC Berkeley’s Mindcraft Camp where SYEP participants coach elementary students with computer programming. Some of our long-time worksite placements include BART, Kaiser, RichmondPAL, Rising Sun Energy Center, Urban Tilth, YMCA and Girls Inc., among others.

What has the partnership with Chevron been like for YouthWORKS?

Chevron gets what we’re doing. A lot of people don’t understand why it’s important to build a forward thinking future, or know what it takes to do that. I’m convinced that Chevron does know what it takes and that they are eager to help us. They are a community leader here in Richmond, so when other businesses or nonprofits see Chevron is involved with our program, it starts a domino-effect and others want to get involved, too.

How is the Youth Summer Employment Program unique?

We are designed to help youth and young adults transition into the workforce. That transition may look different case by case. Some students may immediately begin working after high school, so we help them identify the areas they are interested in starting their career.

What do you like to do in Richmond?

I love the spirit and amount of energy in this city. There are wonderful events happening all the time, especially the Juneteenth Festival and our vibrant, yummy farmer’s markets. My favorite thing to do is sit sit at Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park and reflect on how different the cities are, but how well connected each city is.

What is the Real Richmond to you?

There are positive things going on in our community. I am proud that the City has supported YouthWORKS throughout the years. We have great success coming out of this program. And hopefully, many great success stories coming back into Richmond, ready to contribute to the  community in positive and influential ways.