A local nonprofit has received its third grant from the U.S. Department of Labor — this time, in the sum of $1.1 million.
The Institute for Workforce Innovation applied for and won the funding for its chapter of YouthBuild, a program which helps young people complete coursework for high school diplomas and GEDs and provides vocational training.
Carrie Tam, the institute’s chief program officer, said the money will let 62 additional students into the program. She said it was first funded through the Department of Labor in 2009 and again in 2012. Now, she said, the funding is renewed until 2017.
“I was told this year was one of their most competitive years,” Tam said, “so we were delighted to be one of the programs that was chosen again.”
For YouthBuild students, the program consists of about 35 hours per week. Mornings are spent on academic curriculum, and afternoons are dedicated to helping students earn construction credentials. For that portion, Tam said YouthBuild partners with the Alahcua County Housing Authority. YouthBuild students have gained hands-on construction experience through assisting with renovations for about 20 housing units so far.
Since the program launched in Alachua County, 125 students have participated. Tam said the Gainesville chapter has been performing exceptionally compared with other chapters across the country. She noted that more than 60 percent of the local participants have a history of issues with law enforcement.
“Our performance and placement outcomes are pretty high, so it’s been really good,” she said. “We are exceeding what most programs are able to do with the same population of youth.”
Nationally, YouthBuild reaches thousands of young people with resources “to punch their ticket to the middle class,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in a statement. “These federal grants are part of our broader effort to invest in the future of our nation’s youth and help them climb the ladder of opportunity.”