Buffalo, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today stood with Buffalo community leaders to announce new legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk youth. The Urban Jobs Act would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations, allowing them to carry out programming to prepare youth for employment, particularly benefiting youth that have dropped out of high school or have been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process.
“Supporting education and training for our youth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This program would give organizations in Buffalo the tools and resources they need to help city youth prepare for future jobs, find employment opportunities, and reach their full potential. The skills they would acquire through this program are invaluable. Helping our youth compete in the difficult economy will have a lasting, positive impact on our community.”
Brenda McDuffie, President & CEO, Buffalo Urban League said, “I want to thank Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for her strong leadership and vision in responding with the Urban Jobs Act of 2011, an innovative and comprehensive program to address the needs of young adults, 18 through 24 who have dropped out of school and lack the necessary education, skills, and training to secure economic self sufficiency. We know that throughout the nation, roughly one-third of students are not graduating from high school and are not prepared to compete in our global economy. Here in the City of Buffalo, only 25% of African American males are graduating from high school. This is a crisis! The Urban Jobs Act would establish a system to fill a major gap in the service needs of young adults who need a holistic approach for preparing for them to enter the job market.”
The unemployment rates for certain segments of the youth population are significantly higher than the national average. In many urban communities around the nation, roughly one-third of minority youth are unemployed. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 percentage points lower than the labor force participation rate for high school graduates. Here in Buffalo, the high school graduation rate in 2009 was 58 percent, leaving many former students without the education and training needed to succeed in the workforce.
Lengthy periods of unemployment early in a young person’s work life can have lasting negative effects on future earnings, productivity, and employment opportunities. Developing policies such as those proposed by the Urban Jobs Act would assist youth in acquiring the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market, helping reduce youth unemployment and strengthen the economy.
The Urban Jobs Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received a grant would provide a comprehensive set of services that includes:
- Case management services to help participants effectively utilize the services offered by the program;
- Educational programming, including skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, General Education Development (GED) credential preparation, and post-secondary education;
- Employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, placement in community service opportunities, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development; and
- Support services, including health and nutrition referral, housing assistance, training in interpersonal and basic living skills, transportation, child care, clothing, and other assistance as needed.
The Urban Jobs Act would also directs the Secretary of Labor to establish a National Jobs Council Advisory Committee to analyze and advise on the implementation of the Urban Jobs Program, and have successful applicants establish local jobs council advisory committees to aid in establishing community support for local implementation of the program.