IN 1987 MAYOR BARRY promised a job or job training to every District high school senior who graduated with at least a "C" average. The effort, geared toward students who had no plans to attend college or join the military, was called Project Success. How well did it work in its first year? Well, some 1,900 graduates initially held jobs through the mayor's summer youth employment program. Job training and job fairs were the next step.
D.C. Employment Services Director F. Alexis H. Robinson said 446 enrollees remain. About 369 have gained jobs in the private sector or with the District or federal governments. Another 46 are awaiting job placement, and 20 are in job training. How many of those youths would have found jobs on their own or with the usual help of high school guidance counselors? That can't be answered, but some of those who gained jobs through Project Success say they would not have known where to look or how to land the jobs they have now. Others said it was useful to have program workers who tried to match student interests with actual jobs.
McKinley High School graduate Kelvin Briscoe entered the Riggs National Bank Teller Program and now works as a teller. Larry Jones, who attended Eastern High School and the Phelps Vocational High School, was hired by Pepco at a salary of $17,000 a year. Neiman-Marcus hired five graduates through Project Success at salaries from $4 to $5 an hour. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hired 10 others at pay scales up to that of a GS-5.
The Greater Washington Board of Trade has said that the program has taken the schools "another step closer to ensuring that area youth gain the insight and skills needed to be productive employees."
Such programs, similar to those in Boston and Los Angeles, may lower school truancy or the dropout rate by persuading some high school students to remain in school. Local employers also gain access to a pool of partially trained employees who have learned some of the values of work. For a program that is just one year old, 369 more jobs for the city's high school graduates is a pretty good start.