Schenectady, N.Y. – After touring a house that was renovated by Schenectady YouthBuild students over the past two years, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Paul Tonko urged Congress to continue funding vital programs like this that provide job training and educational programming to students. The YouthBuild program’s authorization expired in 2012. After YouthBuild was slated for elimination in the House-passed SKILLS Act last year, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Tonko successfully pushed back against the elimination and now a reauthorization is included in the recently announced bipartisan, bicameral deal, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which is currently being debated in Congress.
“I am so impressed with what the students here in Schenectady have to show for their hard work and determination – a fully renovated, enery efficient, affordable home,” said Senator Gillibrand. “YouthBuild gives thousands of teens and young adults across New York and the country the resources and tools they need to succeed. YouthBuild Works. We must keep fighting for programs like this that work. I will continue to advocate for YouthBuild and to ensure our youth get the right resources they need to succeed.”
“YouthBuild is critical in engaging our communities and molding tomorrow’s leaders,” said Congressman Tonko. “Those involved in these programs across the nation and in the Capital Region gain valuable job readiness skills, and provide our neighbors a greater chance for success and a place to build stable families. Sequestration and short-sided budget cuts have targeted these programs, and I will continue to fight them in the House of Representatives. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her work in the Senate and our community leaders involved in YouthBuild USA.”
“YouthBuild Schenectady is one of 142 YouthBuild programs that are currently funded by DOL YouthBuild grants administered by the Employment and Training Administration,” said Dorothy Stoneman, CEO and Founder YouthBuild USA. “Without Senator Gillibrand’s leadership, this critical federal support would not be at its present level of $77.5 million. With her continued leadership, we hope the federal YouthBuild program will be expanded in the future. Private funders like Saint-Gobain provide much of the 25% non-federal funder required of DOL-YouthBuld grantees like YouthBuild Schenectady.”
“Over the past eight years, hundreds of YouthBuild Schenectady graduates have unlocked their potential and made a lasting impact throughout the Capital Region,” said John Henley, CEO of Northeast Parent & Child Society and incoming CEO of Northern Rivers Family Services. “Every dollar of federal investment in this program has delivered an exponential return. We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Tonko for their advocacy for not only our youth, but for the strength and health of every member of our community.”
With the help of Northeast Parent & Child Society, YouthBuild USA and Saint-Gobain Corporation Foundation the home at 843 Emmett Street, in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood of Schenectady, has achieved LEED Gold Certification and is now a model of how energy-efficient and sustainable homes can be built affordably. Through the program, students learned green job skills and worked closely with Saint-Gobain and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “Options in Green Program” to learn many of the best practices for constructing LEED certified homes.
Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Tonko have been active leaders in advocating for youth educational and job training programs, securing the YouthBuild authorization in WIOA, which is a bipartisan, bicameral deal to reauthorize federal job training programs that was announced last month. In April, Senator Gillibrand led a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee along with 31of her colleagues, requesting $102.5 million in funding for YouthBuild for Fiscal Year 2015. According to MDRC, there are more than 3 million youth in the United States who are disconnected, low-income and without a high school diploma.
In New York State, YouthBuild has 17 chapters and YouthBuild’s DOL funded centers have served 2,259 students since 2007. Here at the Schenectady center, 179 students have been served with DOL funding since 2007, with 92 percent of students receiving their high school diploma or equivalent and 72 percent of students gaining employment or enrolling in college.
YouthBuild has been in existence since 1992 and is operated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). They provide job training and educational programs to low-income youth between the ages of 16 to 24, who have not graduated from high school or received an equivalent degree. Program participants are engaged in year-long, education and job training courses with a focus on training in the construction and carpentry fields. Counseling, mentoring and leadership development programs are also offered to participants. Nationwide, they serve more than 130,000 students in 46 states and have built more than 28,000 affordable housing units for homeless and low-income individuals.