gavel.jpgSan Francisco District Attorney George Gascon today announced a new partnership with the city’s Bayview Hunters Point YMCA center to provide paid internships for at-risk high school students this summer.

The Changing the Odds internship program will provide 10 students with the chance to work as an intern with the district attorney’s office for four weeks, starting on July 11.

The students are ones who need to recover school credits lost as a result of truancy or dropping out, and are already participating in the YMCA-run CARE program, which allows them to successfully transition back into an academic setting where they can earn a high school diploma.

For the first time this summer, people in the CARE program will have the opportunity to participate in the district attorney’s internship program.

Gascon said, “The reality is no kid should be considered to be a throwaway kid,” and that the goal of the program “is to provide them a better understanding of the criminal justice system.”

The students will be given a weekly stipend of $250 and perform various administrative duties and get mentored by prosecutors in the district attorney’s office.

The CARE program is funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, and the district attorney’s office is also contributing $25,000 toward the internship program, Gascon said.

Charles Collins, president of the YMCA of San Francisco, said the program is especially important during the summer months.

“During the summertime, it’s a dangerous time for a lot of our kids,” Collins said. “They’re not in school, they don’t have their regular programmed activities.”

Gina Fromer, executive director of the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, said, “This program … can give them some options to see how the real world works.”

Gascon, who said he was a high school dropout himself before getting back on track through a stint in the military, said he hoped other organizations and businesses in San Francisco will donate money to help expand the program to include more students.

“It takes a village to raise a kid,” he said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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