​​​What is SYEP?

The Summer Youth Experience Program (SYEP) is a collaborating with multiple Des Moines area organizations where area youth receive 40 hours of training to prepare them for work. Participants then work with an area employer for eight weeks (20 hours per week). During this work experience they receive ongoing support from YEP through their employment mentor and weekly cohort meetings. Participants leave YEP having earned income, have the opportunity to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), and gain skills and experience they can use in education and future employment. Employers gain experience working with young people, establish a pipeline for future employees, and benefit from being a part of efforts to improve our community.

How will SYEP help Des Moines?

Youth employment has decreased substantially over the years, especially since 2000. The past few years have seen summer teen employment rates only around 30%. Thanks to extensive research conducted on youth employment we now know a lot about its benefits.


  • We know being employed in high school can help promote school persistence and graduation, especially among economically disadvantaged youth.

  • We know that metropolitan areas with higher female teen employment rates tend to have lower teen pregnancy rates.

  • We know young people who are employed they are less likely to engage in dangerous or illegal activities.

  • We know that when young people are employed there is a positive impact on the local economy.

  • We know that youth unemployment results in significant costs to local, state, and federal governments through lost tax revenue.

  • For more data on youth employment and sources for this information see our “Why SYEP?” web page.

How will SYEP benefit my business?

  • There are a number of ways that partnering with SYEP to offer young people this opportunity can benefit your business.

  • Many employers are concerned that young people lack the soft skills they need to be successful in the workforce. SYEP is designed to help young people develop those important skills.

  • Research shows that “working while in high school” makes it easier for youth to transition into the workforce after graduating.  Participating in SYEP will help prepare the workforce your business will be depending on in future years.

  • As an employer you may not have previously considered hiring young people. SYEP provides a low-cost, low-risk environment where you can learn what a young person has to offer while receiving extensive support.

  • The benefits of SYEP to our community make it fit well within the community goals of many companies.

  • For more data on youth employment and sources for this information see our “Why SYEP?” web page.


I don't usually hire teenagers; how will SYEP help me prepare to work with youth?

SYEP knows that just as many of our participants have had limited experience in the workforce, many of our partner businesses have had limited experience working with youth in their businesses. Our goal is to create a positive experience for both the youth and businesses taking part in our program. In order to do this we will be checking in with our partner businesses at least once each week. Additionally, we will make ourselves available for our partner businesses at any time. We will also be making workshops on working with youth available to our partner businesses.

What will it cost to participate?

Providing youth a 20-hour-per-week work experience costs approximately $2000 per participant. Youth will be paid a stipend through the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).

I don't have a position for a young person at this time; is there another way my business can participate?

Yes! If your business can't provide a work experience for a young person you can sponsor one or more participants. If you sponsor SYEP participants you will be funding their work experience with a non-profit or government agency that cannot fund a young person's experience themselves. Sponsors will be recognized on our website and in SYEP publications with different levels of sponsorship receiving different levels of recognition.

My organization is a Non-profit or Government Agency; is there a way we can participate in SYEP?

Yes! We want participants to be able to experience work at non-profits and government agencies as well. Sponsors will fund the work experience of participants placed with non-profits and government agencies. If you are interested in creating a placement in your organization for a participant, use the links in the “How do I sign up?” section below.

How do I sign up?

You can email info@evelynkdaviscenter.org, or fill out the form(s) below.