Update: City officials extended the deadline to apply to Friday, June 9. This story has been updated to reflect the change.
Chicago teens looking for a summer job can now apply online through One Summer Chicago — the city’s youth employment program, which has seen a decline in participation in recent years.
Applications opened Feb. 28 and are due June 9. The program will run for six weeks, from June 26 to Aug. 4, and any Chicago resident ages 14 to 24 is eligible to apply.
Last summer, 20,544 youth participated in the program, which offers jobs, internships, service learning, and career exploration programs, according to a new report released by the Department of Children and Family Support Services. Just over 16,000 teens worked jobs and internships, while others enrolled in programs aimed at career exploration and service learning.
Those numbers have yet to recover from a steep drop in participation in 2020 — when summer programs were virtual or hybrid. Roughly 20,000 youth got jobs through One Summer Chicago during the first summer of the COVID pandemic, compared to more than 30,000 in 2019.
Former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had hoped last summer would see a rebound, calling for a “summer of joy” when the application opened.
Mayor Brandon Johnson promised to double the number of youth employed during his first 100 days in office. Summer jobs and youth employment more broadly were key issues in the mayoral runoff election between Johnson and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.
Summer teen employment dropped across the country in 2020, but rebounded in 2021, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, the number of teens with summer jobs has been declining in recent decades. Prior to 2000, more than half of American teens worked summer gigs. Now, it’s around a third, the report found.
In addition to One Summer Chicago, Chicago Public Schools offers a wide range of summer programs — including academic catch-up required for students who failed certain grades — that got a big boost with federal COVID recovery money.
For more information about One Summer Chicago, the city has a list of frequently asked questions online.
Becky Vevea is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Chicago. Contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org.