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Buffalo to use federal stimulus money to expand Summer Youth Program

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is making youth employment and job training his initial priorities for the federal dollars heading to the city through the Biden Administration's American Rescue Plan.

The city is expected to get $350 million over three years from the stimulus bill. Speaking during an early morning news conference Sunday, the mayor said he is starting a public engagement process to get the citizenry involved in how to spend the money.

He told the news event at the Northland Workforce Training Center he is planning major increases in the number of young people working in what has long been the Mayor's Summer Youth Program, by running it year-round with expanded coverage of those aged 14-21 in poverty.

"With the goal of getting to full employment for every young person in the City of Buffalo who wants to work," Brown said. "And, when I say who wants to work, there will also be a major initiative to encourage our young people to take advantage of these opportunities."

Common Councilmember Ulysees Wingo said he knows the value of that summer program.

"It was Mayor's Summer Youth Program, 1994. I was employed as a little guy working on Medaille College as a groundskeeper and maintenance worker. I was taught by my father the work ethic. They liked me so much, I had a very sweet opportunity to continue to work, while I was in high school," Wingo said.

The Masten representative said he stayed with the job until he had finished three years of college.

There will also be a scholarship fund at the Northland Center for Black and brown youths, starting with $1 million to pay their way through. Early signs of the programs at Northland are that graduates are getting jobs, good jobs.

"Of the 500 students we have recruited and enrolled, so far, 53% are from the City of Buffalo and 32% come from zip codes contiguous to 14211," said Northland CEO Stephen Tucker, "and this investment from the city, from Mayor Brown, will allow us to do more outreach, more recruiting, more resources for people from this community."