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Cincinnati's New 'Level-Up' Program Matches Youth With Career-Readiness Jobs

dorothy smoot
Becca Costello
Dorothy Smoot, chief impact officer of the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, announces the Level Up program on May 12, 2021.

About 245 young Cincinnatians will be matched with career-training jobs starting next month, thanks to a new city-funded program. The 'Level Up: Launch Your Career' program is a partnership between the city and several local organizations, headed up by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.

Chief Impact Officer Dorothy Smoot says the Urban League has been working on youth employment for the last decade, and this is an exciting next step.

"It will help our young people have access to employers; access to support while they're going through the training; and access to supportive services that will help them address any of the issues that would keep them from being successful," Smoot said.

Jobs will be available in health care, child development, construction, information technology and customer service.  

Young people ages 16-24 are eligible to apply. Each job will pay $12 an hour for 20 hours a week and will last a minimum of 12 weeks.

City Manager Paula Boggs Muething says the million-dollar program is funded by the city.

"With Level Up, the Urban League has created a blend of work readiness and on-the-job training centered on personal growth and development, and addressing any barriers to gaining and sustaining employment," Boggs Muething said.

Council Member Greg Landsman pushed for the city budget to provide the funding.

"What is so profound about this is that it is at the heart of what we should be doing as human beings and as adults, which is recognizing the uniqueness — what's so special about every individual young person, and investing in that," Landsman said.

The training sessions start in June.

Young people can sign up for a virtual career fair to learn more; the fair is Wednesday, May 19, from 10-11 a.m. Youth can pre-register online using this form.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.