WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor is working to address the employment needs of young people with the announcement of up to $20 million in funding to support demonstration projects for youth in high-crime, high-poverty communities.
These “Summer Jobs and Beyond: Career Pathways for Youth Demonstration Grants” will provide resources to Local Workforce Development boards to expand and enhance existing summer employment programs and work experiences throughout the year for eligible youth and to implement innovative practices.
The grants intend to strengthen the alignment of partnerships under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to encourage partners to collaborate and expand their capacity to serve youth entering the workforce in their local community. The grants will require partnerships between Local Boards and local summer employment programs, employers, local education agencies, and re-engagement centers to expand summer into year-round employment and work experience programs for eligible youth.
“Our economy and our nation are stronger when young people have meaningful opportunities to contribute,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Access to a job in the summer and beyond can make all the difference in the world to a young person who doesn’t have many other opportunities, or didn’t have the easiest start in life. This funding will aid communities in their efforts to broaden opportunities for those summer jobs to young people who need them, and furthermore extend those opportunities throughout the year, building the foundation of a career, brick by brick.”
This grant competition is part of a number of concrete actions and budget proposals announced by the White House today to help open doors for young Americans to start their careers. These steps build on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, which is closing the opportunity gaps that too often strangle hope for young people of color, helping them rise above adversity and drawing out their unique gifts and talents. They are also closely aligned with the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ efforts to help give young people their first meaningful work experience – outlined at the organization’s 84th Winter Meeting in January 2016, where Perez spoke about talent development and student access to careers.
Projects will serve youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who have no or limited work experience, and will promote career pathway entry through participation in existing and expanded community summer job programs. Program components will include: subsidized and unsubsidized work experience opportunities, individual service strategies or comparable learning plans, assessments, work readiness training, financial literacy training, career exploration, case management mentoring and supportive services. Up to $2 million each will be awarded to 10 or 11 Local Workforce Development boards.
The department is particularly interested in learning from these projects how best to serve in-school youth through innovative partnerships between the workforce system and school districts. In addition, the department is interested in learning how the workforce system, local education agencies and re-engagement centers can work more effectively reach out-of-school youth and assist them in obtaining summer into year-round employment. Finally, the department is interested in learning how to best leverage local summer and year-round employment programs to support better program integration among those serving this population and improve performance outcomes in high-crime, high-poverty communities that offer limited economic mobility opportunities for youth.
The grants are aimed at communities suffering from high youth unemployment rates, high poverty rates, high violent crime rates, and low graduation rates. Target communities that have received federal designation as a Promise Zone will receive priority consideration.
This grant competition is funded through the Dislocated Worker National Reserve Account. This account primarily provides assistance to address significant worker dislocation events such as plant closings or natural disasters. However, up to 10 percent of the account is available for demonstration projects such as these.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement, which includes information about how to apply, is available here.