RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) was awarded a $1.2 million federal YouthBuild grant earlier this month to continue a program that trains students for jobs in the construction industry and expand it to meet the growing demand for skilled logistics workers.
“It is absolutely exciting to be able to expand this program to include the logistics industry,” said Mary Jo Ramirez, Program and Development Director for California Family Life Center (CFLC), one of RCOE’s many community partners participating in the program. “Logistics is a huge focus in our county with so many warehouse facilities popping up. It’s a huge industry that pays a decent living wage.”
The CFLC works with RCOE to not only help students obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma, but to also obtain certification in job skills that will qualify them for immediate employment.
RCOE’s Come Back Kids Program provides instructors to help students academically, and the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) will help certify students to work in the logistics industry.
The program will continue to work with industry partners, including the Home Builders Institute (HBI), to train students in construction trades. Students will be building homes for Habitat for Humanity that will be provided to homeless veterans.
“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with RCOE to help these young people attain marketable skills in the construction industry,” Kathy Michalak, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity Riverside.
“Riverside County YouthBuild is a life-changing, comprehensive program to help youth gain the education, occupational, and leadership skills necessary to attain viable employment,” said Dr. Diana Walsh-Reuss, Associate Superintendent for RCOE. “Approximately half of the 61 students in the program will be trained in construction skills, and the other half in logistics.”
The grant will fund the program for three years and was part of more than $76 million in YouthBuild money awarded by the Department of Labor to 72 programs in 31 states that help out-of-school youth earn a high school or General Educational Development (GED) diploma while learning critical occupational skills in construction, health care, information technology and other fields.
“Success should never be determined by where a person starts in life,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas El Perez in awarding the grants. “YouthBuild helps equip young people with the tools they need to realize their potential and the job skills they need to climb career ladders and punch their tickets to the middle class.’
The YouthBuild project in Riverside County was developed in collaboration with RCOE, CFLC, HBI and more than 20 public and community partners, including the Beaumont, San Jacinto and Hemet Unified School Districts.
The program targets at-risk youth, dropouts, parenting youth, adjudicated youth, and foster care youth who need to complete high school diploma or the equivalent requirements.
YouthBuild’s core objectives are:
- Enable disadvantaged youth to obtain the education and employment skills necessary to achieve economic self-sufficiency in occupations in demand and post-secondary education and training opportunities.
- Provide disadvantaged youth with opportunities for meaningful work and service to their communities.
- Foster the development of employment, occupational, and leadership skills and commitment to community development among youth in low-income communities.
- Expand the supply of permanent affordable housing for homeless individuals and low-income families by utilizing the energies and talents of disadvantaged youth.