Miami-Dade’s public schools are a large, multicultural group of school districts in southern Florida. But all of their ethnically diverse student bodies share one thing in common – they live in an area of high poverty. Nearly three quarters of their students qualify for free or reduced lunch, showing that their families are in high economic need.
According to recent research by banking giant JP Morgan Chase, 43 percent of Americans who are raised in lower-income households will stay in that household through adulthood. That’s nearly half. 15 percent will wind up in a lower bracket.
It’s a harsh fact for Miami, as it is for many other urban centers. But schools and business leaders in Miami-Dade are teaming up to try to find a solution.
Since 2014, JP Morgan Chase has committed nearly $6 million towards building summer employment programs for students across the country, including in Miami. These programs put high school students to work in growth industries like health care and tech. Through the Miami-Dade County Public School System, 167 students were placed in paid internships in 2015. 165 of them achieved college credit for their work.
A jump-boost on college isn’t the only benefit. Studies show that teens who work during the summer are 86% more likely to have a job the following year. In these days of job insecurity, that’s a huge step-up to give to anyone about to enter the working world.
While summer jobs don’t have the earning power they once had (no one, not even community college students, can pay tuition working summers alone), the experience is still incredibly valuable, especially with the support of their schools behind them. Working students learn interview techniques, technical knowledge in a variety of fields, and gain insight into what careers truly appeal to them. They also connect to their communities in a way that schools rarely prepare one for.