YouthBuild USA was recently awarded one of two $10 million competitive national grants from the U.S. Department of Labor to prepare young adult offenders and young people without a high school diploma for employment and postsecondary education as well as to engage them in community leadership. The National Association of Service and Conservation Corps received the other grant.
The two grantees will work in partnership with federal and state correctional agencies, local workforce investment boards and community-based service providers to offer a proven array of academic, employment and other re-entry-focused strategies designed to transform the lives of program participants.
"The purpose of these grants is to prepare these individuals for employment by increasing the rate at which participants enter post-secondary education and training, and equipping them with industry-recognized job training skills,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
YouthBuild, which has been an Alliance Partner since 2005, is a youth and community development program that simultaneously addresses core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development. In YouthBuild programs, low-income young people ages 16-24 work toward their GEDs or high school diplomas, learn job skills and serve their communities by building affordable housing, and transform their own lives and roles in society. There are now 273 YouthBuild programs in 45 states, Washington, DC, and the Virgin Islands. 92,000 YouthBuild students have built 19,000 units of affordable, increasingly green, housing since 1994.
This grant will allow YouthBuild USA to build upon the success of its earlier youthful-offender programs, as documented in the 2007 research, by Professor Mark Cohen, which shows that for every dollar invested in a court-involved YouthBuild student, there is a return to society of at least $10.90 and up to $43.80. In this project, the program will begin inside the prison walls for incarcerated young adults.
YouthBuild USA plans to use this grant to engage 640 young adults in eight low-income communities after holding a competition among qualifying local YouthBuild programs. The organization will also build a parallel campaign with private funds to persuade state governments to fund prevention and re-entry programs to lower the costs of crime and incarceration by creating pathways out of poverty.
The grants were awarded as a result of a competitive process that was open to national and regional intermediaries with proven experience conducting multi-site projects and serving young adult offenders. Inherent in each award is the understanding that the awardee will be required to competitively select local sub-grantees or program partners to operate the proposed program in a minimum of five high-poverty, high-crime communities in at least two states.
For more information on Department of Labor training programs, visit http://www.doleta.gov.