WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the state of Missouri will receive a grant worth more than $5 million to explore, develop, and test strategies that improve employment outcomes for young adults in the St. Louis area.
The funding will expand the local network of American Job Centers and encourage greater collaboration between the workforce system and community organizations to better serve area youth with little-to-no work experience or post-secondary education.
"A good job can open so many doors and helps pave a path to the middle class. For too many of our young people, these doors are often closed or don't exist," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Today's grant will help young people in Missouri pave that path by making effective training and education more accessible."
In the last four years, the state of Missouri has endured several large layoffs resulting in the loss of more than 22,000 jobs in the manufacturing, air transportation and banking industries. In addition, the population of Northern St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis has experienced high poverty, low incomes and high unemployment. Unemployment among area youth is higher than the national average, with more than one in four young people in the labor force seeking work.
Today's grant is designed to address the barriers faced by high-risk young adults and to measure the impact of innovative strategies on employment outcomes. Grantees are expected to prepare and place approximately 3,000 young people through job-driven training coordinated with local employers in high-demand industries such as IT, retail, construction and healthcare.
The Missouri Division of Workforce Development, in partnership with the St. Louis County and St. Louis City Local Workforce Investment Regions will use the grant to:
- Establish a network of community-based satellite American Job Centers in the North St. Louis region;
- Co-locate satellite job centers with community-based nonprofit organizations that have substantial knowledge of and roots in Ferguson and the surrounding area;
- Develop a grassroots community outreach model with nonprofit and faith-based organizations that can provide convenient and familiar meeting environments;
- Emphasize the attainment of a skill level, competency or industry-recognized credentials.
Funding for this grant is made possible through the department's Dislocated Worker National Reserve Account. This account is primarily used for National Emergency Grants to address significant worker dislocation events such as plant closings or natural disasters. However, up to 10 percent of the account can be used for demonstration projects, such as this Missouri demonstration project.
This grant aligns closely with several of the Obama Administration's key priorities, including the My Brother's Keeper and Promise Zone initiatives. This grant also builds on the principles outlined in the Obama Administration's job driven training report that encourages innovation and creativity in developing effective re-employment strategies to help the unemployed return to the workforce.
Young adults interested in obtaining employment services are encouraged to visit their local American Job Center in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County Region.