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Summer Jobs Programs Across the Region Wind Down

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Uchenna Chukwu, 19, poses in front of the giant mural in the Edgewood neighborhood of Northeast D.C. He's one of 20 young people working this summer with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Patrick Madden
Uchenna Chukwu, 19, poses in front of the giant mural in the Edgewood neighborhood of Northeast D.C. He's one of 20 young people working this summer with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Summer jobs programs across the region are winding down as young people get ready for school. This is how Uchenna Chukwu spent his summer: helping spray-paint a two-story wall that runs the length of a football field.

Chukwu is putting the finishing touches on a colorful mural in Northeast D.C. He's one of 20 young people working this summer with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and one of 19,000 enrolled in the District's summer youth employment program. It's the country's second largest. The city is spending more than $40 million this year on the nine week program.

DOES Director Joe Walsh says the pricetag is worth it. Earlier this year, the city council decided to cut the length of next year's summer jobs program to six weeks.

Across the Maryland border in Montgomery County, officials are looking to expand their program. At Ram Cycles motorcycle shop in Rockville, three youngsters are wrapping up their last day of work in the County summer youth jobs program. Cassandra Boyd, the program's manager, describes it in much the same way as her D.C. counterparts describe what happens in Washington. It gives young people a chance to earn money and develop good habits, and this summer was a big one for the county. But that brings the total number in Montgomery's program to just 126 students -- the District's program enrolls more than 150 times that many, and Montgomery has 350,000 more people.

County officials say they'd like to expand the program -- but funding for next year is uncertain.

Patrick Madden and Jonathan Wilson report...

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