April 14, 2010

To Help Provide Young People With Service Opportunities, Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Expand Youth Corps Program

Bill Would Amend Workforce Investment Act To Assist States and Local Communities To Increase Youth Corps Programs

Washington, DC – To help provide young people with service opportunities, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced legislation that would expand Youth Corps programs throughout the nation. The Youth Corps Act of 2010 would amend the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to establish a competitive grant program to assist states and local communities in replicating and expanding Youth Corps Programs. 

“During these tough economic times, we must prepare our students to become tomorrow’s leaders,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This program would strengthen our communities, while preparing our young people for the jobs of the 21st century. All New York students deserve the opportunity to get ahead.”

The core components of the Youth Corps model include:

  • opportunities for educational advancement, including secondary school completion and preparation for postsecondary education;
  • work experience, skills training, and career counseling;
  • collaboration with other youth serving systems, such as child welfare and juvenile justice, to provide and coordinate supportive services for vulnerable youth;
  • partnerships with local workforce and education systems, including labor, employers, postsecondary institutions, and community-based organizations, to develop pathways to postsecondary and labor market success; and
  • post-program support.

The grants, awarded to states and municipalities, will be awarded for a period of 3 years with an option for renewal. In the Youth Corps model, adult leaders serve as mentors and guide crews of 8-12 Corps members as they gain paid work experience and learn the skills that are essential to the development of a strong work ethic and success in the workplace. Corps members also receive a living allowance, classroom instruction to improve basic academic competencies, complete high school, and prepare for postsecondary education, and a wide range of supportive services. Additionally, they participate in technical skills training and leadership development.

New York is currently home to several youth corps program including:

  • Avodah
  • Cayuga County Sold & Water Conservation District
  • City Year New York
  • Cristodora
  • Green City
  • New York City Justice Corps
  • New York Restoration Project
  • Onondaga Earth Corps
  • Rural Health Service Corps
  • The Chenango Community Corps
  • Western New York AmeriCorps

Modern Youth Corps, descended from the Roosevelt-era Civilian Conservation Corps, operate in 44 states and the District of Columbia. With an emphasis on environmental stewardship, Youth Corps across the country have delivered strong education, workforce readiness, civic engagement, and personal responsibility outcomes for 600,000 youth since 1976. Today, the 143 Corps enroll nearly 30,000 young people. More than half of the participants come from families with incomes below $20,000, are members of racial or ethnic minorities, and lack either a high school diploma or GED.

Nationally, there are an estimated 3.5 to 5 million youth, age 16 to 24, out of school and out of work, with an additional  half million youth dropping out of school  each year.  Evidence demonstrates that these individuals are more likely to spend their lives periodically unemployed, on government assistance, and/or cycling in and out of the criminal justice system.  Rather than contributing to the economy, these individuals are likely to put a strain on it.