Today the Employment and Training Administration made $75 million in grants available for the YouthBuild program. If you represent a public or private nonprofit organization with experience serving at-risk youth in YouthBuild or other similar programs, I encourage you to apply for a grant. YouthBuild is an effective program for helping young people get good jobs and stay out of poverty, and I want to share why.
But first, let me describe for you the “typical” YouthBuild student: He (or she) may have gone through the juvenile justice system. He may have dropped out of school. He may have aged out of foster care and, in the absence of guidance, is now facing an uncertain future. He may be lacking self-confidence, and important life skills such as time management or working on a team.
YouthBuild provides young people who’ve experienced multiple barriers to success with a leg up − not a hand out. Students receive a well-rounded education. In addition to classroom instruction that will lead to a high school diploma or GED certificate, they also gain real-world work experience, industry-recognized credentials that lead to good wages, and important leadership skills that employers look for in job candidates. That last piece is critical: the valuable life skills students learn make them real leaders in their communities, and are useful in all occupations.
I believe that investing in our young people will pay for itself many times over by making our workforce, and our economy, stronger. Because of changing workforce needs, new YouthBuild regulations have expanded training options beyond construction to growing fields such as health care and information technology. At the same time, construction remains a critical component of the program and continues to lead students, like Ciera Russum, into a variety of specialized career paths.
More than 100,000 students have graduated from YouthBuild to date. With good jobs and important skills, they have a new shot at enjoying the lives they want. We are looking for a few good service providers to help more young people share in this success.
To learn more about the grants, including eligibility requirements, visit www.grants.gov today.
Jane Oates is the assistant secretary of labor for employment and training.