COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
THE JOHN A. WILSON BUILDING
1350 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, NW
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20004
CHRISTINA HENDERSON Committee Member
Councilmember, At-Large Hospital and Health Equity
Chairperson, Committee on Health Judiciary and Public Safety
Statement of Introduction
Middle School Career Exploration Pilot Amendment Act of 2023
June 28, 2023
Today, I am proud to introduce the Middle School Career Exploration Pilot Amendment Act of
2023 , along with Councilmembers Charles Allen, Matthew Frumin, Janeese Lewis George,
Robert C. White Jr. , Brooke Pinto, and Zachary Parker. This legislation would establish a Middle
School Career Exploration Pilot that would provide occupational skills, academic enrichment,
life skills, career exploration, work readiness, and youth development trainings for youth
between the ages of 9 and 13 years old.
The District's summer programming opportunities are robust, but not all students can nor do
participate in opportlmities. It is also important for continued engagement that programming
offer a broad array of options across age groups so that students have options that accommodate
their strengths and interests . The District's Out-of -School Time (OST) , Department of Parks and
Recreation (DPR), and Department of Employment Services (DOES) programs are popular, but
there is a gap in summer opportunities for middle-school aged youth. Middle school is a critical
time for children's exploration of and exposure to opportunities in their broader community, and
it is critical that these youth have a broad array of hands-on experiences and opportunities to
develop new and existing skills during the summer and beyond. Middle school is a time when
youth typically first begin developing skills so that they can eventually earn money, but there are
limited work opportunities for this age group due to federal employment laws. While DOES
currently offers middle schoolers opportunities through the Middle School Exploration program,
the program currently has only 3 providers and a total of 225 openings, and participants are
neither compensated nor incentivized. Given that there are approximately 17,000 middle school
students enrolled in both District of Columbia Public Schools and public charter schools in the
District, a pilot to assess the impact of the program and a potential year-round expansion, is
The Middle School Career Exploration Pilot would provide an avenue for middle school youth to
gain invaluable experiences through career exploration opportunities prior to high school, when
they would be eligible to participate in the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment program.
Research demonstrates that developing skills and participating in volunteer and career
opportunities are incredibly important experiences that lead to the future success of middle
school youth. In 2012, the U.S . Department of Labor created a curriculum named "Soft Skills to
Pay the Bills," citing research that young people preparing to enter the workforce are
COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
THE JOHN A. WILSON BUILDING
1350 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE , NW
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20004
significantly lacking in in the "soft" or applied skills - such as teamwork, decision-making, and
communication - that will help them become effective employees and managers. 1 These skills
are especially important for Black and Hispanic teens . Research shows that teens who live in in
high poverty neighborhoods have experienced the greatest difficulties in finding employment
Participating in modified versions of successful teen employment programs has an invaluable
impact for many middle schoolers and is shows to strengthen subsequent employment prospects.
Evidence from youth employment programs across the country has shown a myriad of positive
outcomes. Youth participating in Chicago's One Summer Plus program decreased violent crime
for youth in the treatment group by 43 percent over 16 months relative to the control group, with
much of the decline occun-ing during the year after participation. 3 Participating in the New York
City Summer Youth Enrichment Program reduced youths ' probability of incarceration and
mortality from "external causes," including homicides, suicides, and accidents. The effects of
reducing crime persisted beyond the summer months, suggesting that something beyond keeping
youth "busy" during the summer led to these outcomes. 4
This legislation will lay the foundation for the opportunities necessary to create these positive
outcomes and help middle school youth in the District not only take actionable steps towards
their future, but also help structure middle schoolers ' days during the summer, expose them to
new experiences in their city, and put them in contact with adult mentors who serve District
communities during the summer months.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Council to pass this legislation that would
benefit a critical age group by expanding their horizons about possibilities in their city during the
summer and year-round.
Soft Ski ll s to Pay the Bill s
Do Summer Youth Employment Programs Work?
Science, Volume 346, Number 6214
The Effects of Youth Employment: Evidence from New York City Lotteries
2 Councilmember Charles Allen Councilmember Christina Henderson
Councilmember Janeese Lewis George
10 Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr. Councilmember Brooke Pinto
16 A BILL
21 IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
25 To amend the Youth Employment Act of 1979 to establish a Middle School Career Exploration
26 Pilot to provide occupational skills, academic enrichment, life skills, career exploration,
27 work readiness or youth development trainings.
29 BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this
30 act may be cited as the "Middle School Career Exploration Pilot Amendment Act of 2023 .".
31 Sec. 2. The Youth Employment Act of 1979, effective January 5, 1980 (D.C. Law 3-46;
32 D.C. Official Code§ 32-241 et seq.) is amended as follows:
33 (a) Section 2 (D.C. Official Code§ 32-241) is amended by adding a new paragraph (9) to
34 read as follows:
35 "(9) "Middle School Youth" means an individual who is between the ages of 9
36 and 13 years old.".
37 (b) Section 2a (D. C. Official Code § 32- 242) is amended by adding new paragraphs (6)
38 and (7) to read as follows:
39 "(6)(A) Middle School Career Exploration-The Department of Employment
40 Services (DOES) shall create a summer pilot program for middle school youth that provides
41 occupational skills, academic enrichment, life skills, career exploration, work readiness or youth
42 development trainings.
43 "(B) DOES may provide an incentive to participants who participate in the
44 summer pilot program.
45 "(C) DOES shall implement the pilot program beginning June 1, 2023.
46 "(D) DOES shall be authorized to spend program funding to provide
47 meals and snacks to participants .
48 "(E) DOES shall administer a survey to participants following the
49 completion of the summer youth pilot.
50 "(F) Upon completion of the summer pilot, DOES shall issue and submit
51 to the Council a report with:
52 "(i) The total number of participants who participated in the
54 "(ii) The total number of participants who completed the program;
55 "(iii) Partner organizations with whom participants completed their
57 "(iv) Participants' demographic data, as available;
58 "(v) Results from the survey administered pursuant to subsection
60 "(7)(A) Middle School Year Round Career Exploration - DOES may create an
61 after school program for middle school youth that provides occupational skills, academic
62 enrichment, life skills, career exploration, work readiness or youth development trainings during
63 the school year.
64 "(B) DOES may provide an incentive to participants who participate in the
65 year round pilot program.
66 "(C) DOES may implement the year round pilot program in School Year
68 "(D) DOES shall be authorized to spend program funding to provide
69 meals and snacks to participants.".
70 Sec. 3. Fiscal impact statement.
71 The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement of the Budget Director as the fiscal impact
72 statement required by section 4a of the General Legislative Procedures Act of 1975, approved
73 October 16, 2006 (120 Stat. 2038; D.C. Official Code§ 1-301.47a).
74 Sec. 4. Effective date.
75 This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the
76 Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of Congressional review as
77 provided in section 602( c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December
78 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813: D.C. Official Code§ l-206.02(c)(l)), and publication in the District of
79 Columbia Register.