The U.S. Department of Labor awarded Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas (VOACC), in partnership with the City of Newport News, a $1.4 million YouthBuild grant to create a new workforce development and education program for 90 young people in the City’s Southeast Community. YouthBuild provides at-risk youth ages 16-24 with education and occupational skill development to obtain employment in construction and other in-demand industries.
“We are proud that the Department of Labor is investing in our young people and their futures,” says Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price. “Through the YouthBuild program, young men and women in Newport News will develop the skills needed for success in the workforce. What makes this program unique is that they will also learn construction skills and build homes for low-income families, possibly people from their own neighborhoods. This blend of real-world work experience and community service will change the lives of program participants, as well as citizens from throughout our great city.”
Newport News has partnered with VOACC to administer the grant. Participants will engage in job readiness training, financial literacy classes and career exploration opportunities at the Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center and the Four Oaks Day Service Center Learning Lab. They will earn their high school diploma or equivalency degree, if needed, and will attain at least one industry-recognized certification while preparing for postsecondary opportunities.
Youth will receive hands-on construction experience building homes with Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg and the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The program will also offer a Construction Plus option, giving eligible youth the opportunity to earn a Class A Commercial Driver’s License.
“We are excited to receive the Department of Labor YouthBuild grant and have the opportunity to work with and improve the lives of at-risk youth in Newport News,” says Nicholette Smith-Bligen, Director of Operations of Virginia Services at Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas. “We are honored to work in partnership with the City of Newport News to pave a path to success for young people living in our community through educational and vocational development.”
Newport News and VOACC are the only public-private partnership in Virginia to receive this competitive grant. For additional information on the Department of Labor's YouthBuild program, visit the program website.