MO Group receives grant to help young people start a career / Public Information Service

The St. Joseph Youth Alliance received a YouthBuild Scholarship from the US Department of Labor, to help students earn their high school equivalencies and launch a career.

The Youth Alliance program has two tracks. In one, students earn a pre-apprenticeship construction degree and build a house for a low-income family. In the other, they are training to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

Robin Hammond, executive director of the Alliance, said case managers are there to help participants if they decide on further post-secondary opportunities.

“If there is additional professional training or a potential nursing school that one of our participants is interested in, we help them pursue that path,” Hammond explained.

Overall, the Department of Labor awarded nearly $90.4 million, including $1.35 million to the St. Joseph Youth Alliance. The YouthBuild grants are part of a Biden administration goal to create fair and sustainable jobs in high-demand industries, with a focus on energy efficiency and green building techniques.

YouthBuild is for low-income people ages 16 to 24, but since you have to be 17 to drop out of high school in Missouri, the Youth Alliance program is geared toward those 17 and older. Hammond pointed out that failing to do well in traditional high school says nothing about a student’s intelligence or ability to contribute to society.

“There are a lot of different factors that come into play why someone may not be successful in traditional school,” Hammond argued. “But we know that a young person who hasn’t had a high school education is more than likely to live a life of poverty. And we can help that young person get out of that situation.”

Hammond added that they are also working to give attendees opportunities for community service, job preparation and interview training, as well as training in budgeting and money management; all are skills that young people preparing for adulthood will need. The Youth Alliance is one of 20 community partnerships across the state affiliated with the Missouri Family and Community Trust.

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