CHICAGO – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded six local community colleges and non-profits in Illinois a total of $6,501,644 million through YouthBuild, a job-training and educational program for at-risk youth ages 16 to 24. Through YouthBuild, at-risk youth learn construction skills while constructing or rehabilitating affordable housing for low-income or homeless families in their own communities. Program participants split their time between the construction site and the classroom, where they earn their high school diploma or equivalency degree, learn to be community leaders, and prepare for college and other postsecondary training opportunities. YouthBuild includes significant support systems, such as a mentoring, follow-up education, employment, personal counseling services, and participation in community service and civic engagement.

“The best anti-poverty, anti-crime, anti-violence program is a job. That is why Senator Duckworth and I have introduced legislation that would help provide at-risk youth in Illinois and across the nation with increased opportunities for employment,”said Durbin. “Our underserved communities need the federal government to be an engaged partner when it comes to expanding economic opportunity, and these YouthBuild grants will help achieve that goal.”

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“Far too many young Americans live in poverty while struggling to find jobs or economic opportunity, often in communities across the country already struggling with dishearteningly commonplace violence and danger,” said Duckworth. “It doesn’t have to be that way, but it’s not going to get better unless we work together to do something about it. That’s why I’m so proud to join Senator Durbin to announce this funding to help open up new economic opportunities for young Americans, no matter where they live.”

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Under this announcement, the following six local community colleges and non-profits in Illinois received grant funding:

  • Bethel Family Resource Center (Chicago Heights, IL): $1,001,644
  • Community Development Institute (Chicago, IL): $1,100,000
  • Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc. (Rockford, IL): $1,100,000
  • Lewis and Clark Community College (Godfrey, IL): $1,100,000.00
  • YBLC, Inc. (North Chicago, IL): $1,100,000
  • Youth Conservation Corps (Waukegan, IL): $1,100,000

In April, Durbin and Duckworth introduced two pieces of legislation to expand and increase access to employment opportunities for at-risk youth. The Helping to Encourage Real Opportunity (HERO) for At-Risk Youth Act would provide tax incentives to businesses to hire youth from economically distressed areas and the Creating Pathways for Youth Employment Act would increase federal resources for communities seeking to create or grow youth employment programs.

YouthBuild has a network of approximately 260 active urban and rural grants in 46 states and serves over 6,000 at-risk youth nationally per year.

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