Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

EWING, N.J.-The 65 high school students who completed the Mercer EYES summer employment program concluded their experience with a special luncheon at the brand-new clubhouse at Mountain View Golf Course in Ewing. A total of 150 participants, employers, and family members attended the luncheon to celebrate the program's inaugural year.

"Too often, young people in our communities may feel that the only way to achieve financial success is by joining a gang or otherwise engaging in criminal activity," said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes as he addressed the participants. "But as all of our EYES participants learned this summer from their partnerships with professional mentors, real success comes from learning a job skill set and applying your skills to make a difference in the community."

A $300,000 grant called "Learn to Earn" that was applied for and received by the Mercer County Office of Economic Opportunity made the EYES program possible. Participating youth received two weeks of job training followed by eight weeks on the job with a mentor. Among the 69 original participants in the program, 35 were from Trenton while the rest lived throughout Mercer County. There were 44 young women and 25 young men participants signed up for the program, all of whom will be juniors or seniors during the upcoming school year.

The EYES program, which stands for Empowering Youth Employability Skills, provides for grant-funded internships and matches young people seeking employment with area businesses that can offer not only jobs, but also opportunities to work with a dedicated mentor. Additionally, support services for these paid interns will be offered by Mercer County's One-Stop Career Center, the Workforce Investment Board, and the City of Trenton.

Hughes congratulated all of the participants on their accomplishments, and encouraged them to make use of the above services during the coming year.

"I'd like to see Mercer EYES eventually become a year-round initiative," Hughes said. "These internships are a great resume-builder for young professionals, and the County reaps tremendous benefit from the contributions made by EYES participants."