Denver’s mayor wants your kids to get a job, learn about money and stay safe this summer

The city hopes a $1.7 million program for young workers will help reduce youth violence.
3 min. read
Little Man Ice Cream location in Denver’s Highland neighborhood, July 4, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Mayor Mike Johnston joined Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero on Monday to announce their plan to support young people during the summer, a season they said is prone to spikes in youth violence. 

“We think that summer is a great opportunity to get young people engaged in positive activities,” Johnston said. “It can also be an at-risk time for young people who are not engaged in positive activities to be exposed to violence.”

Johnston is launching a $1.7 million state investment his administration calls the Mayor’s Youth Works Program. The program recruits young people ages 16 to 24 to work summer jobs for private companies.

The city’s asking small businesses to commit to hiring youth and participate in two job fairs. One is online on Friday, May 24, from 4 to 6 p.m. The other will be in person on Saturday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Program participants who work more than 100 hours will receive a $1,000 stipend at the end of the year.

The city’s goal is to get 1,000 people hired through the program. 

Marrero and Johnston will be touring schools to let students know about the hiring fairs. 

“This is really a partnership between businesses and between the city,” Johnston said. “We think there's no better way for a young person to grow than to be able to work and learn next to these local small businesses here in Denver.”

As part of the program, the city will offer financial literacy training through Financial Empowerment Centers and will extend those offerings to parents of children. The hope is that bringing extra economic stability will decrease stress and, as a result, reduce domestic violence. 

“It's not going to totally eradicate it, but we're taking down one of the number one risk factors for both domestic violence and violence in general, both working with the kids and with the parents,” explained Jay Salas, the head of the Denver Office of Financial Empowerment and Consumer Protection. 

Denver’s also creating a website to connect kids with activities. 

The Youth Summer website lists resources for young people in the city. It includes links to the Denver Post’s Summer Camp Guide, offerings from Parks and Recreation, Denver Public Schools and Visit Denver. There are also links to food and mental health support.  

Denver Parks and Recreation has launched the Summer Rec Kidz camp for kids eight to twelve. It runs from 9 a.m. to noon, from June 10 to August 9, with an option to stay after. The camp is free with a MyDenver Card. MyDenver youth programming is also available for youth up to 18. 

“If you have a seven-year-old looking for some rec program, if you have a 12-year-old looking for a science program, you're looking for a drop-in opportunity at the YMCA, you now as parents or students can come to our one-stop shop,, and you can find access to every one of the programs that exist in the city,” Johnston said. 

The city will also provide more things to do in neighborhoods with high rates of violence. 

The Office of Children’s Affairs will fund pop-up events in neighborhoods by offering $500,000 in grants to community organizations that want to partner with the city. 

These could include gatherings like basketball tournaments, barbeques or concerts, the mayor explained. 

“We want to make sure kids and families have something positive to do,” said Johnston. “We think these three things together create a really coordinated, cohesive and compelling plan for the summer.”

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