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Local agencies get ‘YouthBuild’ federal funds

By Josh Richman
Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 11:30 pm in education, housing.

Three local agencies have landed grants from the U.S. Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program, which helps out-of-school youth get their diplomas or GEDs while providing occupational training in the construction industry to build and renovate affordable housing within their communities.

The Youth Employment Partnership in Oakland gets $675,000; the City of Richmond Employment and Training Department gets $687,500; and the San Joaquin County Office of Education in Stockton gets $687,500. All of them seem to have received funding through this program at some point in the past.

Overall, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced about $114 million granted to 183 community groups this past weekend; that’s an initial increment for two years of grant operations, and more might be awarded if money becomes available. Of the 183, 62 were current YouthBuild grantees and 121 were new. The awards include about $47 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic-stimulus funding, although the Oakland, Richmond and Stockton projects received regular funding.

YouthBuild participants include those who have been in the juvenile justice system, youth aging out of foster care, high school dropouts and others. Besides getting academic and occupational skills training, they develop leadership skills and take part in community service opportunities. Many learn green building techniques by helping to retrofit existing homes, learning to make their communities sustainable and environmentally friendly. YouthBuild was transferred by Congress from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Labor Department in 2006, and it’s being revamped to include what the Labor Department describes as “a rigorous randomized control trial evaluation of the YouthBuild program to learn more about its impact on the disadvantaged youth it serves.”

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