A summer job-training program for at-risk youths has expanded from north Omaha into the southern and western parts of town, and organizers are trying to get more businesses to participate.
Community leaders have begun to plan this year’s Step-Up Omaha summer jobs program, which aims to hire 600 people ages 14 to 21.
Omaha City Council members have been pushing recently for more city funding of job training and opportunities. Mayor Jean Stothert said the program, which is in its eighth year, helps people find jobs that pay a living wage.
“That’s what all people need: a chance to succeed,” Stothert said.
Tuesday, Stothert, Willie Barney of the Empowerment Network and others announced the kickoff of this year’s Step-Up program.
Job seekers can apply this month to stepupomaha.com. Businesses who want to hire someone from the program can do so on the same website.
Barney said the Empowerment Network hopes to increase the number of hires from 420 last year. The group also wants to increase the number of work sites from 80 to 100.
That means the group will need $1.2 million, he said. It is $200,000 shy of that goal.
The program matches participants in a various jobs, such as IT, customer service, landscaping, construction and restaurant work.
Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing, an Empowerment Network board member and co-chairman of the committee, said he got his start at a similar job-training program. That led him to a job at the Omaha Police Department, where he eventually made a career and ended up as a deputy chief.
Noor Hamadi, a Step-Up participant from 2014, worked in cash management at American National Bank for a summer. He said it gave him exposure to what it’s like in the business world.
“It was an awesome experience,” he said.
And it stuck with him — Hamadi is now a sophomore at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, studying business.
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