A mural, depicting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at the Eastside Youth Opportunity Center in East Baltimore. (Courtesy photo via YouthWorks Baltimore’s Facebook page)

Seven years ago, Jason Perkins-Cohen saw parents brave a March snowstorm to check out a YouthWorks information session for summer jobs programs.

It was his first week as director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, and he looked out onto a packed room for a program that was almost four months out. That’s when he learned just how important YouthWorks was to Baltimore parents, and how passionate they were about finding opportunities for their children.

“‘What is my son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild going to do this summer?’” Perkins-Cohen recalled of attendees’ approach while recalling the event to Technical.ly. “‘It is really important to me [that] my young person has an opportunity, my young person is building towards their future.’ I continue to be struck by the passion parents and caregivers have about making sure [YouthWorks] exists and is strong.”

Financial firm JPMorgan Chase donated $150,000 last week to help support the 6,700 young Baltimoreans that participate in the city’s summer job program (and give parents peace of mind about what their children are doing when school’s out). The donation is a part of a $20 million, five-year philanthropic commitment to support summer youth employment programs in cities throughout the country, including Technical.ly markets Philadelphia, DC, Delaware and Pittsburgh. It’s part of an effort to curb the pandemic-related decline of youth summer employment, which a recent Georgetown University report said is at its lowest levels since the Great Depression.

Read more at Technical.ly