Now entering its 4th year, the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program seeks to continue and expand upon the work of preparing Trenton’s youth for the workforce through workforce training and entry level job opportunities made possible by a collaborative effort of the Mayor’s Office, Millhill Child & Family Development Center, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Rider University. With 267 youth placed through the first three years, the program hopes to prepare even more Trenton youth for the workforce.

Mayor Gusiora

On the morning of Monday March 11th business, nonprofit, and community leaders attended a breakfast and presentation to kickoff the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Mayor Reed Gusciora welcomed everyone in attendance by discussing his first job experience cleaning dishes at a local country club that put him on the path to become a successful lawyer, State Assemblyman, and eventual Mayor of the Capital City. The Mayor and Peter Crowley, CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, both discussed the importance of workforce training and opportunities for youth to help young adults get on the right path, find a sense of purpose, learning employment skills, and develop into productive citizens.

Michelle Thompkins

Michelle Thompkins, Director of Youth Programs for Millhill Child & Family Development Center, talked about how this program can place youth on the pipeline to success and how summer employment opportunities directly correlate to increased high school graduation rates and secondary education attainment by promoting the soft skills and goal setting necessary for long term success. Michelle also discussed how in order to prepare Trenton’s youth for success it takes a collaborative efforts of nonprofits, parents and families, schools, local government, and businesses in order to prepare the next generation of Trenton’s youth for the workforce and to help generate economic development.

How the Program Works

  • Students ages 16-21 first enroll in the program either through Millhill Child & Family Development Center or through the City of Trenton.
  • Students will then participate in workforce training provided by the Rider University Bonner Community Scholars Program. Youth attend a full day training at Rider University to learn about topics including presenting a professional image, financial literacy, writing a resume, interviewing, and more.
  • Youth work with Millhill Child & Family Development staff to find a job placement matching their interest in skills. The students will also go through job coaching sessions with mock interviews and coaching.
  • Once employed youth will receive a stipend made paid either through Millhill or the employer during their employment period which is determined by the employer (such as hours, weeks, etc). During the summer Millhill staff and partners check in with the youth and employers to provide support, feedback, or to troubleshoot any issues on either end.

Why this Benefits Trenton’s Youth

Left to Right: Mayor Gusciora, Aniya Warner, Henry Cua, Maria Richardson (Trenton Director of Recreation)

Will a youth learn the necessary skills to become Mayor of Trenton by washing dishes like a young Mayor Gusciora? Maybe, but they will definitely learn the soft skills and gain the opportunities necessary to enter the workforce and begin building successful careers that may lead to them too becoming the next Mayor of Trenton.

Trenton Central High School Junior and aspiring pediatrician Aniya Warner discussed her summer experience working with Mercer Street Friends. She talked about how despite juggling work for A.P. courses, this experience enabled her to take the first step towards her career goal of becoming a pediatrician.

Trenton Central High School Visual and Performing Arts Student Henry Cua took to the podium to thank Majors Elijah and Valeri Kahn from the Salvation Army for providing the opportunity to work for them during the summer of 2018. On his experience Henry had this to say …

“I implore to all of you who are listening to me today to employ youth because we are the future and the future needs mentors and by working together the future looks bright.”

How You can get Involved

Whether you are a local business, nonprofit, or community partner there is a way for everyone to get involved and help prepare Trenton’s youth for the workforce.

Employ a Youth – At the epicenter of this program is entry level job placements for youth. The goal for 2019 is to secure 20 new job opportunities through groups including businesses and organizations affiliated with the Trenton Downtown Association, the Department of Labor, Trenton city vendors, more local nonprofits, and other businesses in the area.

Previous employers include businesses such as New Jersey Manufacturer’s and the Hilbert Group, nonprofits such as the Salvation Army, UIH, Trenton Circus Squad, and LALDEF which have been involved since the beginning along with new partners such as the Trenton Downtown Association, Homefront, and Christina Seix Academy.

Sponsor a Youth – Youth employed at nonprofit businesses are paid by the employers but youth employed at nonprofits are employed through funds raised via the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Millhill. A $2,000 donation will cover the costs of training (busing to and from Millhill, food, etc.) stipend paid to youth, and program support needed to operate the program.

Spread the Word– If your organization is not able to participate, please consider sharing information about this program with your network or simply sharing this TrentonDaily article.


For more information visit or contact Michelle Thompkins at or 609-989-7333.

About Author