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Allegheny County given $1.1M to boost youth initiative

Tom Fontaine
| Thursday, June 18, 2015, 11:21 p.m.
Allegheny County road workers use a new milling machine to repave portions of Crawford Run Road in Frazer on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
Allegheny County road workers use a new milling machine to repave portions of Crawford Run Road in Frazer on Thursday, June 18, 2015.

Nearly $1.1 million in federal money will help expand a fledgling program in Allegheny County aimed at providing more summer jobs for young people, officials said Thursday.

“This is not for young people just to do busy work or work that doesn't have the possibility for a career,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said at a Downtown news conference announcing the funding.

The money will help provide an estimated 200 summer jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including ones in video game design, website production, data analysis and digital manufacturing.

“Connecting youth to opportunities in tech-related fields will help them see that real opportunity for a meaningful career is available right here in the Pittsburgh region,” said Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Downtown nonprofit Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board.

Among the jobs, about 25 young people will do paid internships at Simcoach Games in the Strip District. CEO Jessica Trybus said they will test and design video games aimed at developing “soft skills” for young job-seekers, such as nailing a job interview and effectively managing time.

Mayor Bill Peduto said some children will learn how to produce websites for small businesses and market themselves as freelance designers.

“It will teach them to become entrepreneurs,” Peduto said.

The state Department of Labor & Industry is providing $7.5 million in federal funding that it receives to support similar programs across Pennsylvania, including one in Philadelphia that's also expected to support 200 STEM-related jobs, said agency Secretary Kathy Manderino.

The local STEM program is part of a larger effort introduced this year by the city, county and Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board called “Learn and Earn.”

Before Thursday's announcement, the $4.3 million program aimed to provide summer jobs for about 2,000 people ages 14 to 21.

Cheyanne Swaney, 19, of Clairton is one of them. The Community College of Allegheny County student starts working June 29 in human resources and marketing at UPMC. She'll earn $7.25 to $8.50 an hour.

“This connection could possibly lead to working for (UPMC) after college, which is great because obviously I don't want to have to leave Pittsburgh to get a job,” said Swaney, who plans to enroll at Carlow University in Oakland after earning her associate's degree.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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