Community Voices
Open image in lightbox
Marine Mammal Care Center volunteers. (file photo: John Mattera Photography)

Companies and organizations have the opportunity to provide valuable work experience to youth and young adults who are underemployed, unemployed, children of immigrants, or foster and homeless youth with barriers to employment.

Harbor YouthSource Center provides employment and work readiness programs to youth ages 14–24 in the Harbor Area. Local businesses partner with the center and are provided workers at no cost. 

Marisol Guzman, job developer, encourages local companies to participate in the YouthSource Center. “It is a great way to test drive an employee, and the cost of employment is paid by the government for a specified period,” states Guzman. “You might find your next rock star employee while opening doors to local youth.”

Interested companies can utilize youth for technical jobs, including data entry, social media, clerical, and office jobs. Youths cannot handle cash, alcohol, or operate machinery in this program. Examples of current employment sites include local nonprofit agencies, the YMCA, Marine Mammal Care Center, Boys and Girls Clubs, medical offices, chiropractic offices, real estate companies, and other businesses.

Job sites are responsible for training the participants and providing guidance regarding the job. YouthSource gives the job site a detailed agreement with responsibilities and time sheets. The program is open to youth of all abilities, and the center also works with the Department of Rehabilitation for participants with disabilities.

YouthSource also offers all levels of employment support at no cost to youth, including assistance with job applications, resume building, interviewing skills, mentoring, financial aid, and exploring career and schooling options. The goal is to create a pathway to employment, high school graduation, or realize their post-secondary or employment-related aspirations. 

Guzman believes everyone deserves a chance. She gets to know the program participants to find jobs aligning with their interests. Local youth have earned certificates in graphic design and learned coding in collaboration with the San Pedro YWCA and YouthSource. Youth learn skills to build a resume, which may also include volunteer work at local organizations. 

YouthSource is contracted with the County, the City of Los Angeles, and other agencies. The program began in 2009 when the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) collaborated to establish the YouthSource centers. LAUSD was looking to re-engage students who had dropped out of school and assist those who had graduated but were not employed. Over the years, YouthSource has evolved to include a wide assortment of job opportunities that create connections with the youth and the community. 

“Bring your kids or grandkids to YouthSource to discover boundless opportunities based on their interests,” states Guzman. “We recently had a participant who was interested in animals and were able to place them at the Marine Mammal Care Center. This is an example of how we build up kids and empower them by connecting them to jobs they will enjoy.”

Potential job seekers between the ages of 14–24 and interested job sites can contact Harbor YouthSource Center by calling (310) 221-0615 ext. 2606 or emailing The YouthSource Center is located at 222 West 6th Street, Suite 420, in San Pedro. The program funding year begins July 1. spt

photo of san pedro today author Jennifer Marquez

Jennifer Marquez

Jennifer Marquez can be reached at  and @jenntmqz on Twitter and Instagram.