Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced her push to secure millions in federal funding for a Department of Labor (DOL) program that helps at-risk young adults get jobs across New York State and the country as part of its Reintegration of Ex-Offenders program. This program provides grants to national and regional nonprofit organizations that provide critical services that help at-risk youth, aged 16 to 24, attain the skills and education needed for success. These services include case management, skills training, tutoring, and mentoring to put these young people on a pathway to a good job. The beneficiaries of the program are both unemployed and out of school, putting them at a greater risk of becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
“Every young person deserves the chance to get a good job and help their community thrive,” said Senator Gillibrand. “However, the high rate of youth unemployment, particularly for minorities and youth from underserved communities, is a testament to the obstacles that stand in the way of their success. We should invest in our youth and their full potential, even if they have made mistakes in the past. That’s why I am urging my colleagues to provide necessary funding to this critical Department of Labor program in this year’s appropriations bill.”
“This funding would help Urban League affiliates operate our Urban Youth Empowerment Program, which has connected countless young people with mentors, job training and educational opportunity, steering them toward productive and fulfilling work,” said Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President and CEO. “We’re grateful not only for Senator Gillibrand’s efforts in working to secure these funds, but also her unyielding passion and commitment to providing at-risk youth with educational and employment opportunities.”
Gillibrand successfully passed legislation, the Urban Jobs Act, in 2012 as a provision in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to help support programs like this that enable nonprofit organizations to prepare young adults who are unemployed and out of school for employment.
The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter is here and below:
The Honorable Roy Blunt
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and,
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Patty Murray
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and
Human Services, Education and,
Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:
We are writing to urge the inclusion in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill of at least $35 million within the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) Reintegration of Ex-Offenders program account to help address the ongoing crisis of unemployment among our most vulnerable populations – young people aged 16 to 24 who are both unemployed and out of school.
Nationwide, research shows that the youth disconnection rate is now 11.7 percent. That means a total of 4.6 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are without jobs or are not connected to school, leaving these young people with inadequate education and skills that are necessary to secure quality employment and placing them at a greater risk of becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Given the alarmingly high rate of youth unemployment the country faces, particularly among minority populations, there is an urgent need for federal investment programs that assist our nation’s disconnected youth in attaining the skills and education demanded by the 21st century economy.
ETA’s Reintegration of Ex-Offenders (RExO) Program, carried out through authority provided in Section 169 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), provides grants for both adult and youthful offenders and serves as an important federal investment in disconnected youth. We are hopeful that the Committee can increase funding for this program in the FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. This increase will allow the RExO competitive grant program to continue to provide critical support to the efforts of national and regional nonprofit organizations that have rich histories of demonstrated proven models in serving distressed communities and youth with the skills and knowledge necessary to be productive citizens and members of our country’s workforce.
We also request that the FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill language include “disconnected youth” in the RExO Program section. Specifically, we request the following bill language:
Provided, That of this amount, $35,000,000 shall be for competitive grants to national and regional intermediaries for activities that prepare young ex-offenders, school dropouts, and disconnected youth for employment, with a priority for projects serving high-crime, high-poverty areas;
Furthermore, we request the inclusion of the following report language in this year’s Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill:
Congress finds that the DOL, ETA, RExO program should be expanded to include “disconnected youth,” who reside in high crime, high poverty geographic areas as these youth are at risk of incarceration due to lower graduation rates, higher unemployment rates, and other socio-economic ills due to the lack of economic opportunities and a lack of economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.
Funding that is focused on assisting disconnected youth in some of the nation’s most disadvantaged communities is essential to ensuring pathways to quality employment as well as to strengthening the country’s economic competitiveness.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request.