WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of $12 million to develop the Job Challenge program to expand the existing National Guard Youth Challenge program to include youth once involved with the juvenile justice system. The funding will help facilitate partnerships with the justice system to recruit court-involved youth interested in participating in the program and provide them with education and training to obtain an industry-recognized credential.
"The youth unemployment rate continues to remain very high. The barriers to a good job are even higher for those with juvenile records," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "This grant competition helps break down barriers and provides these youth with opportunities to succeed through effective, evidence-based education and job training programs."
Developed in the early 1990s, the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program seeks to improve the life and employment prospects of young people, aged 16 to 18, who have dropped out of high school and are disconnected from the labor market. The program instills military-based discipline and training combined with educational instruction, experiential learning and mentoring. Cadets engage in supervised work experience and complete eight core program components during a six-month residential phase at an active or closed National Guard base, training center, or school campus. The program now operates in 27 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and has served more than 120,000 young people since it began.
The Job ChalleNGe grant will help existing Youth ChalleNGe programs expand to provide court-involved youth with vocational education including the technical skills required to perform a specific job, and on-the-job training. Participants will receive support in the development of their career and academic goals and understanding long-term career and education pathway options. Most importantly, participants will be provided work-based learning, and actual work experience through field trips, job-shadowing and other opportunities to expose them to additional career paths and prepare them for the world of work.
The department will award up to $4,000,000 each to three grantees through this competition. Grantees must currently operate a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program pursuant to a Cooperative Agreement with the United States Property and Fiscal Officer, National Guard Bureau.
The Funding Opportunity Announcement, which includes information about how to apply, is available at http://www.grants.gov.