More than 80 youth and young adults participated in the “Empowering our Youth” Summer Program
Union County, NJ – September 16, 2022 – Community Access Unlimited (CAU) once again partnered with Union County to help young people take the important first steps towards their introduction into professional life through the “Empowering our Youth” summer employment program.
The comprehensive Youth Forward program connects 14-24 year olds with jobs, education and training. Youth Forward is funded by a grant under the federal Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, administered by the Union County Workforce Development Board through the American Job Center.
Community Access Unlimited (CAU) is a partner in the program and has placed 20 young people in paid internships so far this year. The agency also assists participants with job training and the support they need to work, such as organizing transportation and funds for work certifications or uniforms.
“Union County strives to provide as many resources for residents looking for employment and work experience and it is especially important to provide our youth with the tools they need for their future in the workforce,” said County Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “We are grateful for the ongoing partnership with Community Access Unlimited and their contribution has made our ‘Empowering our Youth’ program even more successful, with over 80 young adults participating.”
Young people can qualify for the program if they require assistance to access an educational program or job: they may have a disability, come from a family with low income, have dropped out of high school, or aged out of the foster care system.
For youth with a disability, the program may be even more impactful. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than double that of the general population, about 10 percent versus about 4 percent in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“CAU has played a pivotal role in assisting our younger residents with disabilities gain access to job training, work experience and placement ,” said County Commissioner Sergio Granados, who also serves as Liaison to the Workforce Development Board. “The Commissioner Board is proud that CAU’s mission results making our youth more well-rounded, giving them the tools they need for easier integration into the workforce.”
CAU has also ensured that about 10 program participants who have a disability have access to prevocational services at the agency, which can include resume building and career planning. Several interns have also worked at CAU, learning clerical skills and assisting with marketing tasks such as making flyers and editing video. CAU is a Union County-based, statewide non-profit that works to integrate people with disabilities and youth at risk into the general community through comprehensive supports.
“I’ve had a great experience here,” said Naimah Fields, 17, who worked as a marketing intern at CAU and is starting her senior year of high school. “I’m learning how to scan, use different programs like Excel, and I’m learning how to dress professionally and talk to other people.”
Participants were placed at internships in the community at a variety of businesses: retail, restaurants, technology, transportation, pharmacy, and even a virtual reality film program at Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy.
Twins Gabriella and Victor Ramirez, 15, said they were able to practice writing scripts and filming actors during their internship at the school.
“All the people we worked with were very welcoming, so it was a pleasant experience,” Victor said.
Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating 43 years in 2022, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little support and no voice in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil rights. CAU currently serves more than 3,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908-354-3040, online at https://caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.
Union County residents can still sign up and start an internship this year with Youth Forward. You can connect with Youth Forward by calling 908-558-2520, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling out the online contact form at ucnj.org/dhs. For more information, visit online at ucnj.org/youth-forward.
To contact the Union County Department of Human Services, residents can use the online contact form at ucnj.org/dhs, email the DHS Action Line at DHSaction@ucnj.org, or call 908-527-4847.
For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.
For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email email@example.com or use the online Contact Form.
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