Simone Murray, VP – Member Services and several Members attended the announcement of the Summer Jobs+ initiative at the White House. She kindly agreed to write a guest blog post to share her incredible experience.

We all support Summer Jobs+

DirectEmployers Members at Summer Jobs+ Announcement

Members regroup for a photo at the White House. From left to right: Kelsey White - The SI Organization, Simone Murray - DirectEmployers Association, Eric Airola - J.B. Hunt Transport, Jason Capili - PwC US, Rebel Johnson - Camber Corporation, Brian Jensen - McGraw-Hill, Rich Skelnik - General Dynamics C4 Systems, David Bartlett -CenturyLink (not pictured)

DirectEmployers Association and several of our Members had a unique opportunity to be a part of the Summer Jobs Plus Summit held at the White House last week. The experience still seems so surreal. We had the privilege of being in the same room with the President of the United States… someone pinch me! How did we even get this incredible opportunity, not to mention many of our previous ones like the Social Job Partnership with Facebook, USDOL, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA)?

It boils down to relationships and follow-through. Over the last 10 years we have mushroomed into an Association with 45+ employees, yet we have over 600 + Fortune 1000, Fortune 500 companies who view us as true partners because we value the need for impactful relationships and actually making things happen. Our rapport with Bob Simoneau, Deputy Executive Director and Workforce Development Director at NASWA, led to a connection to Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor. Jane reached out to us last year regarding the Summer Jobs program and we immediately took action and helped spread the word and committed ourselves to hiring youth for summer jobs.

President Obama surprises guests with his appearance and speaks about the importance of the Summer Jobs+ initiative. Pardon the shaky video and audio - I had to hurry and capture the speech on my cell phone!

The purpose of the January 5th event at the White House was an outreach by the DOL to businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President, who spoke for about 11 wonderful minutes, proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. How will this happen without government funding? The only suitable way to have sustainable success with such a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), as one of my favorite authors Jim Collins would say, is by businesses, government and non-profits joining together to formulate a dynamic relationship that will have the greatest impact on our youth today.


   My photo with Jon Bon Jovi at the White House.

Yes, it was impressive and historic for me to see the first African American President of the United States and never mind me also taking a few star struck pictures with rocker Jon Bon Jovi. Yet as I sat through the presentations and listened intensely to the young people on the panel who have had a second or a first chance of success through summer internships, I imagined the possibilities of us as an association making a difference of our own. What relationships can we start building and with whom? One young lady shared her experience during the panel discussion moderated by Secretary Arne Duncan and Ben Jealous, CEO NAACP. Her internship at a cancer center programmed in her two underrated words that has stayed with her until this day – “good job.” How did this young lady who was disconnected from the core of today’s society education and employment get to now be a first year student at Penn State University – because someone gave her a chance.

How can we as professionals help young people by encouraging them with simple yet profound words such as “good job?” I came back from the summit and challenged my boss Bill Warren to take on the commitment plus challenge. Yes, we have committed to hiring five youths for the upcoming summer. In addition, how can we as an Association help to foster and nurture the youth around us? I have resolved to take the first step – formulating relationships.

View the full press release for more information.

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