Atlanta kicks off third summer of mayor’s youth employment program

Registrants have more than doubled over last year
Mayor Andre Dickens speaks during a program celebrating his Year of the Youth initiative at Atlanta City Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Natrice Miller/

Mayor Andre Dickens speaks during a program celebrating his Year of the Youth initiative at Atlanta City Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Natrice Miller/

Traditionally, signing days mark the moment high school seniors destined to play collegiate sports make their decision on what school to attend.

But in Atlanta on Wednesday, employers from across the city took part in their own signing ceremony that kicked off the third year of Mayor Andre Dickens’ youth employment program.

The summer internship opportunity provides thousands of young residents with the chance to work in some of the city’s biggest companies and even at City Hall. City officials said this week that the number of registered students has more than doubled from this time last year, hitting a historic high of nearly 5,000 high schoolers that have signed up.

High schoolers like Cassipea Stith, who interned in the mayor’s Office of Constituent Services while she was in the program last summer. In the fall, she will be attending the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

During her time working on Trinity Avenue, she served Atlantans through helping organize events like the mayor’s Midnight Basketball program and Senior Ball.

“Now it’s your turn,” she said to future interns during the signing day event at the Accenture Innovation Hub in Midtown. “The reason why this program centers on youth is because they need young minds to solve the complex problems of our society. You all are the culture so bring that to your internship this summer.”

The program is also part of a broader effort by the Dickens’ administration to keep young residents busy during out-of-school months, and keep youth crime numbers down. Since the program began, the mayor said, more than 8,000 Atlantans from ages 14 to 24 have landed paying jobs over the summer at around $17 per hour on average.

“In an ideal world, the summer opportunities provided to our young people will help shape the next generation of leaders in these various fields,” Dickens said Wednesday.

That includes jobs in Atlanta’s booming tech industry at places like Accenture. Managing Chloe Barzey, director of the company’s Atlanta office, said the program helps cultivate a future workforce for employers while also supporting youth.

“As an employer, this program is fantastic because it gives us exposure to talented youth, at the same time as the youth are getting exposed to opportunity,” she said.

More than 150 employers taking part in the program over the last two years have paid out over $5 million in wages, according to the city. Atlanta Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Erica Long said it’s a far cry from when she worked at Six Flags amusement park for her first summer job where, at the time, she made $4 per hour.

“I’m pleased to see that today’s youth in Atlanta have even greater opportunities,” she said. “Nurturing our students is a collective responsibility. Their success is best achieved by collaborating with the entire community.”