LOS ANGELES—The David Bohnett Foundation on Monday urged LGBT teens without computer access to log on at one of its regional David Bohnett CyberCenters and take advantage of President Obama's new Summer Jobs+ Bank, a one-stop online search tool that connects young job seekers with employers participating in the administration's Summer Jobs+ program. The public-private partnership provides pathways to economic success for 250,000 low-income and disconnected youth by the beginning of summer.
Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advance Project (MAP), an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and analysis to help speed equality for LGBT people, said the Summer Jobs+ initiative is a boon to LGBT teens. “LGBT youth are particularly at risk for becoming disconnected because of the discrimination they face at school and from society—and because their families may not always accept them,” Mushovic said.
The Summer Jobs+ Bank will house every employment opportunity available through the program—any job, internship or mentoring position can be “tagged” to ensure that the listing is discoverable in the system. It then allows any website to become a search vehicle with an embeddable widget that provides a single window into the initiative's job pool. An organization or blog interested in adding the widget as a feature to its website can visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Summer Jobs+ page for directions.
Michael Fleming, executive director of the Bohnett Foundation and a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, participated on a January panel that laid the foundation for the Summer Jobs+ initiative. He says the David Bohnett CyberCenters can help facilitate the program and allow more young people to use the online job bank.
“LGBT youth without access to a computer at home have a hard time getting hired,” Fleming said. “More and more jobs are technology-based and require internet access to view their availability. The David Bohnett Foundation CyberCenters are places where gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender youth can comfortably get on a computer, access services, learn about the application process and network with each other in a nurturing and supportive atmosphere.”
There are currently 60 active CyberCenters funded nationwide, including locations in Tulsa, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Tucson, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City. Each is equipped with five to ten state-of-the-art computer stations loaded with a broad range of updated programs and software for business and personal computing. Computer access is always free and training on best internet practices and online security is readily available.
Jonathan McClain, 21, spends a lot of time at Los Angeles' David Bohnett CyberCenter, which is housed in the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Village at Ed Gould Plaza. He is part of the organization's youth development program, LifeWorks, which offers a wide array of services for LGBT youth. Best known for its flagship mentoring program, LifeWorks also provides after-school programming, social events, scholarships and a charter school for those who faced discrimination or harassment in traditional schools. McClain regularly uses the CyberCenter's computers to search for jobs and polish his resume.
“The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is a safe, friendly space for LGBT youth, and it's great that we can access the web here,” McClain said. “I'm looking for a job now, and I use the CyberCenter in my job hunt. Some of the youth who come here don't have Internet access anywhere else, so the CyberCenter is a really important resource.”
Ashley Milling, 19, used Manhattan's David Bohnett CyberCenter, which is housed in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, to write school papers, work on resumes and apply for jobs. She recently landed a position at the Henry Street Settlement's Peer Training Institute to help finance her transition from community college to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where she will major in sociology next year.
“Having access to a computer in the David Bohnett CyberCenter has changed my life so much,” Milling said. “I got help working on my r