Los Angeles County held a celebration last Thursday to announce the start of its annual Youth@Work Program for at-risk youth ages 14- 24.

The program expects to help employ 20,000 youth this coming fiscal year starting July 1.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis said employing youth is even more important after the results of the recent 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found that youth homelessness rose 64 percent over a year in the county — although there was a greater effort this year to find and count homeless youth.

“Youth have an unemployment rate that is higher than the rest of the nation, at about 10 percent. And you know now more than ever our commitment has to be made to our young people,” Solis said at a news conference and kickoff event in downtown’s Grand Park.

TheYouth@Work Program, which helps match youth with employers through a network of America’s Job Centers of California, are targeted to priority populations with the highest need, including foster youth, probation youth, homeless youth and CalWORKS youth.

“This transcends at a moment when we wonder if this country can agree on anything. This is about Republicans and Democrats, this is about every ethnic background, private and public sector, we all believe that youth should have a chance,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.