City’s “Hire Up” Program Offering Youth Work Alternatives

Baltimore City’s “Hire Up” program to offer youth work opportunities is seeing success with City’s “squeegee kids.”

Baltimore City is actively providing City youth with alternative opportunities for work and engagement after the City’s growing “squeegee kid” culture posed risks for youth and communities. In November 2022, City and business leaders created the Squeegee Collaborative to discuss solutions. As a result, “no squeegee zones” were established, and the City prioritized connecting adolescents with wrap-around services and alternative work opportunities like Baltimore’s “Hire Up” program.

Hire Up is a transitional jobs program for adult Baltimore City residents who are unemployed or underemployed. Program participants will receive a job at a city agency, business, or organization for up to 6 months, paying $15 per hour for at least 35 hours per week. Participants also receive free career navigation, legal services, financial empowerment counseling, and job placement assistance.

While Baltimore regularly refers squeegee kids to Hire Up, the program is also available to City residents outside of squeegee work. Those at least 18 years old and unemployed or underemployed are eligible. Hire Up currently has funding to help 330 residents, having received $5.2 million in American Rescue Plan funds (ARPA). So far, 229 people have participated. About 70 percent of participants who completed the entire program have been hired, and 50 percent got full-time jobs with city agencies.

Participants are placed in Baltimore City government offices or local organizations, including:

  • Mayor’s Office of Employment Development
  • Downtown Partnership of Baltimore
  • Parking Authority
  • Department of Recreation & Parks
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Public Works
  • Department of General Services
  • Downtown Partnership of Baltimore
  • Mayor’s Office of African-American Male Engagement

Hire Up proves successful

The Baltimore Sun recently profiled Hire Up and some successful strategies, including “persistent” engagement from City outreach workers to at-risk youth. For one former “squeegee kid,” Hire Up has provided critical services and alternative income:

Maurice Blanding, a city outreach worker known as Mr. Maurice approached [Carlose] DeBose and his friends before the ban took effect. No one else was willing to hear Mr. Maurice out, DeBose recalled, but DeBose was listening. Other city staffers had approached the squeegee workers before, but Mr. Maurice was persistent. Somehow, DeBose never felt pressured.

DeBose made the call. That’s how he got connected with the city’s Hire Up program, a jobs initiative that guarantees work but also connects participants with career counselors, financial literacy classes and behavioral health services. Participants like DeBose are guaranteed 35 hours a week of work for at least six months earning $15 per hour, but their employers also allow them to be excused for training sessions and to tap into city services.

Hire Up not only helps place City youth in safe jobs, but it also allows Baltimore to fill vacancies in various departments and offices, which will likely be the case with DeBose:

When DeBose completes the Hire Up program, he’ll likely be offered a permanent job placement with a city agency, a boost to both him and Baltimore which has been plagued by vacancies in particular departments.

Learn more about the Hire Up program.