DOL Announces New Program to Help Former Youth Offenders Gain Job Skills

Today the Department of Labor announced it would be awarding $20 million to non-profit organizations to help develop the work skills of former juvenile offenders. The grants are designed to be spread out to four 501(c)(3) organizations in $5 million chunks. Those organizations would in turn divide the $5 million among smaller non-profits who provide direct services to young offenders in high-risk areas.

The Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis described the new grant program as one that will help young people who otherwise would remain on potentially destructive paths.  “Mistakes made at a young age should not mean a lifetime of lost opportunities. The programs to be funded by these grants will give young people who have gotten off-track the tools, support and opportunities to positively contribute to their communities.”

The program will train former offenders 14 years and older specific skills that can be marketable in today’s economy. Many young people are having difficulty finding jobs today, with the Pew Research Center reporting that just 54% of people ages 16-24 are currently employed. Having a record as a youth certainly does not benefit a young person trying to find a job. The DOL grant program will allow non-profits that specifically deal with at-risk former offenders to expand their programs.

Hopefully, this program will allow former offenders to take a new path and defeat high recidivism rates that plague that population across the states. A solicitation for grant applications will be published in the March 16 edition of the Federal Register. For information on the Department of Labor’s range of employment and training programs, click here.