Effective Local Youth Programs Lose Federal Funding - More Than 120 YouthBuild Programs Face Funding Loss, Possible Closure
SOMERVILLE, Mass. May 18, 2011 – Congressional budget cuts have resulted in 121 local YouthBuild programs across the country losing federal funding for their effective programs serving low-income youth who have previously left high school without a diploma and are seeking a path to productive lives
If funded, these programs would have enrolled about 9,000 students over a two-year period and currently employ approximately 1,250 staff – teachers, construction supervisors, bookkeepers, and counselors.
These cuts come even as existing YouthBuild programs in 2010 had to turn away more than 18,000 young people seeking to further their education and build workplace skills.
“Congress has severely damaged a valued and effective program that is deeply embedded in the most vulnerable urban and rural communities in the nation and that has been built up steadily through four administrations,” said Dorothy Stoneman, chair of the YouthBuild Coalition. “These cuts are short-sighted and will be devastating for the young adults and communities that rely on YouthBuild as a pathway out of poverty through education and job training.”
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) this week announced 76 grants totaling $75 million to support local YouthBuild programs. With 29 grantees having been previously announced, DOL will fund a total of 105 organizations to run YouthBuild programs during 2011-2013. DOL funded 226 YouthBuild organizations in 2009-2011.
YouthBuild programs engage low-income young people, ages 16 to 24, who previously left school without a diploma. About 71 percent are young men; 32 percent have been involved in the court system, and 31 percent are young parents. The students spend half their time in a YouthBuild alternative school working toward a GED or a diploma in individualized, small classrooms. They spend the other half learning job skills and internalizing the ethic of service through building affordable housing for homeless and low-income families in their own communities. Many students earn an AmeriCorps education award for college.
YouthBuild provides a caring community of adults and peers committed to high standards for student success and community service. After a year of full-time participation, graduates are prepared to go on to college, construction apprenticeships, or other jobs. Independent researchers have determined that every dollar spent on every YouthBuild student results in a value to society of at least $7.80 and up to $43.90 in taxes paid, crimes not committed, and dependency overcome.
In addition to the 121 programs that have lost federal funding, hundreds of other community-based organizations that applied for funds to begin YouthBuild programs in their neighborhoods also were rejected due to lack of funds. The demand for YouthBuild and the capacity to deliver it at the local level are enormous.
During Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, he set a goal of expanding YouthBuild to annually educate 50,000 young people in need of a second chance. With both stimulus funding and an increase in the basic appropriation, the president expanded the program substantially. But the new House of Representatives zeroed it out for FY2011, and then in negotiations with the Senate and Administration settled on a cut from $127.5 million (including stimulus funds) to $80 million ($23.5 million below the FY2010 level of $102.5 million).
The 121 DOL grantees that did not receive 2011 funding as a result of this cut are now in danger of decreasing services or even ceasing operations. The programs will seek funds elsewhere, but it will be challenging in the current economic climate. Most of the unfunded programs will be forced to lay off staff. Some will survive with a diminished capacity, and some will close. All the survivors will operate under duress, waiting to see if Congress will appropriate enough funds for FY2012 to allow them to compete again for funding.
“Congress has a chance to fix this in the 2012 budget. The cost to society of disinvesting in America’s youth is enormous. The dropout crisis in America’s public schools results in more than a third of all youth leaving high school without a diploma,” said Stoneman. “This requires creative solutions that attract and inspire the young people to complete their high school education and go on to college and to careers. YouthBuild does this. It should be widely expanded to unleash the talent of young adults who are willing to work hard to climb out of poverty, to continue their education and serve their communities. America’s success in the world economy depends on our ability to develop the talents of young Americans.”
About YouthBuild and the National YouthBuild Coalition USA
YouthBuild is a youth and community development program that simultaneously addresses core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development. In YouthBuild programs, low-income young people ages 16-24 work full-time for 6 to 24 months toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while learning job skills by building affordable, increasingly green housing for homeless and low-income people and participating in leadership development and service activities in their communities.
YouthBuild programs are sponsored by local community- and faith-based organizations and public entities that raise funds from a variety of sources. Primary funding for local YouthBuild programs comes from the US Department of Labor under the federal YouthBuild program, authorized under the Workforce Investment Act and administered by the Employment and Training Administration. 100,000 YouthBuild students have built 20,000 units of affordable, increasing green housing since 1994. Private funds are supplied by the Bill and Melinda Gates, Charles Stewart Mott, Walmart, Bank of America, Saint Gobain, Open Society and Skoll Foundations. YouthBuild is now being replicated by NGOs and governments in Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Brazil, Israel, Serbia, and South Africa.
The National YouthBuild Coalition is a voluntary coalition of approximately 1,000 local organizations that advocate for federal funding for local YouthBuild programs. It is managed by YouthBuild USA, a national nonprofit organization that works to unleash the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives and that provides training and technical assistance to local YouthBuild programs. For more information visithttp://www.youthbuild.org.