(ST.JOSEPH,MO)The St. Joseph Youth Alliance was recently awarded a grant to help young adults get a better education while learning a new trade. Wednesday the Youth Alliance was awarded a $1.1million Youthbuild grant from the U.S Department of Labor.
Youth Alliance Executive Director Robin Hammond said the grant gives people age 16-24 a second chance to get an education while learning new skills.
"We work with them to get their HiSET,or high school equivalency, at the same time while going to school to learn the trade,"Hammond said.
Students enrolled in the program will attend high school equivalency courses at the Webster Learning Center and have an option to choose between two apprenticeship programs. Students will be given the choice to learn a carpentry trade through the Home Builders Institute and the St. Joseph Habitat for Humanity, or work towards becoming a Certified Nurses Assistant(CNA) at the Hillyard Technical Center.
"Young folks will be paid, like its a wage or a like a job for doing all of this. It's still going to take a lot of commitment for the young person. It's going to be a full time equivalent 40 hour a week commitment,"Hammond said.
Jill Huntsman, director of Hillyard Technical Center, said the CNA program typically takes 180 hours of coursework, but the program allows for students to take things at their own pace.
"We can have it longer if the students need a little bit more time, but potentially as far as the CNA portion, sometimes that can be done is as little as six to eight weeks," Huntsman said.
The Youthbuild grant was awarded based on a variety of factors including high school graduation rates, the area poverty rate, student need and the ability for students to contribute back into their local community after finishing the program.
“You have to go to labor market information to determine what is a growing need for your community, so it’s all based on local statistics,” Hammond said.
Over the first two years of the program, carpentry students will be given hands-on opportunities to build two homes for low income families with Habitat for Humanity, and students at Hillyard will fill a growing need in the medical field.
"There is a huge need for CNAs here in St. Joseph and the surrounding area. We have had calls from multiple businesses here in town that have that need," Huntsman said.
The program also allows for students to build off their new skills later in their educational careers.
“If they get into the CNS and they find that the health field is something they really enjoy, we have a practical nursing program that they can go to after that as an adult,” Huntsman said. “We have other programs such as surgical technology, radiology, so it really is limitless as far as what the students can do.”
Hammond said the community partners will need a few months to plan out the final details of the program, but hopes to begin enrollment later this fall.The program will work with up to 67 students from St. Joseph over a 40 month period. Each graduate of the program will also have 12 months of career follow-up with a staff member from the program.
For more information on the Youthbuild program, contact the St. Joseph Youth Alliance.