by: Sarah Rosario Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A week after former mayor Patrick Cannon's arrest, city leaders are making a push to save the reputation of a summer program for teens Cannon headed.
The Mayor's Youth Employment Program in Charlotte has been around for 28 years.
With federal corruption charges looming against Cannon, city leaders worry the program will have a negative association because of its name.
"Because it's the Mayor's Youth Employment Program, people can mistakenly identify (it) with a specific mayor, but it's not about a specific mayor," said Ron Carlee, Charlotte City manager
City leaders said the summer internship program is about providing a better future for local teens.
The city partners with businesses and schools to offer paid internships for high school students. Local officials said Cannon's arrest should not affect the program.
"This is not the time to get scared and run away because of an individual mistake. We have to look at the more than 300 youth that we made commitments to," said District 3 City Council Member Lawana Mayfield.
Jaylon Alexander has been preparing for the program since last summer. He will work at an engineering firm before he goes to college.
"I don't believe the mayor directly controlled the program. He had other people do it so he wasn't the one in charge of this program," said Alexander.
Business owners said they hope the next mayor will be behind this program
"I expect that whoever comes in to be the next will also continue to support the program," said Keth Mender, president of Twork Technology.
Mayfield said now is the time to talk with teens about character and integrity.
She said it's also time for business leaders to show community support.
"We need our community to step up and say, 'You know what? We not only have jobs for you today, we have jobs for you for the next 20-plus years,'" said Mayfield.
Nearly 80 businesses are already a part of the Mayor's Youth Employment Program. City leaders are hoping to have a hundred by the end of the year.
Next week the city will host its inaugural Career Discovery day. On April 9, the Mayor's Youth Employment Program (MYEP) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will cohost the city's first Career Discovery Day, a district-wide career exploration event for thousands of local high school students. This event is the first of its kind in the Charlotte area.
If you'd like to learn more about this program visit www.myep.charlottenc.gov.