The Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA) has been awarded a $1.1 million grant by the U.S. Department of Labor to support the agency’s YouthBuild program, which has helped more than 120 at-risk youths since 2012.
The community-based, alternative education program provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youths ages 16-24. Participants work on completing their high school or state equivalency degree; earn industry-recognized certifications within in-demand occupations; and gain construction skills training to build housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities.
“The YouthBuild award allows us to continue and expand the work we are doing to support our youth as they strive to improve their lives,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “This is a crucial investment in the future prosperity of our City and an acknowledgement of our success in supporting Atlanta’s kids and teens. ”
The U.S. Department of Labor announced Sept. 29 that it awarded $80.3 million in YouthBuild grants to non-profit organizations in 35 states. The grants range from approximately $700,000 to $1.1 million each and will fund 77 YouthBuild programs.
“Atlanta’s continued economic competitiveness needs innovative partnerships like YouthBuild that connect at-risk youth to job skills and career opportunities,” said Interim Executive Director Melissa Mullinax. “For Atlanta’s disconnected youth, this program helps us create on-ramps to success where they have been missing.”
“YouthBuild Atlanta has been a place of hope for so many at-risk youth in the city of Atlanta,” said Rebecca Birkett, YouthBuild Atlanta, program director. “This program has opened doors for our students, exposing them to opportunities for their lives that they never knew existed. I have watched them become excited to learn, excited about their future, better parents to their children and more engaged in building their communities. This grant will allow us to continue serving the youth within the City of Atlanta who are in need of a program like YouthBuild.”
YouthBuild’s mission aligns with the goals of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which seeks to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color, and ensure that all young people can realize their full potential.
This is the third time that the City of Atlanta has received the grant since 2012.