PALMDALE –Antelope Valley YouthBuild was awarded a $1.1 million federal grant to continue to provide young people with the tools, resources and opportunities they need to succeed at life, officials announced at a press conference Wednesday.
The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, and the money will fund two years of services and one year of follow-up services for the local YouthBuild program, said Executive Director Rossie Johnson.
“This actually means that we’re able to serve 70 to 80 young people… provide them with high school diplomas, provide them with job training – mainly in construction,” Johnson said, adding that the program also provides life skills, leadership skills and community development skills.
“We want them to be a part of the community they live in, we want them to contribute to it, we want them to build on it, and we want them to make it their home and feel good about it being their home,” Johnson said.
To obtain the grant, AV YouthBuild teamed with Antelope Valley Partners for Health, which serves as the fiscal sponsor for the grant.
“We’re very proud to offer fiscal support to YouthBuild, to help them grow as a nonprofit here in the Antelope Valley,” said Michelle Kiefer, Executive Director of Antelope Valley Partners for Health.
Antelope Valley YouthBuild is an alternative school that provides programs to “at potential” young people, ages 16 to 24. The students work toward their high school diplomas, learn job skills and serve their communities by building affordable housing and transforming their own lives and roles in society.
Participants spend six to 24 months in the full-time program, dividing their time between the construction site and the YouthBuild alternative school. Antelope Valley YouthBuild’s mission is to unleash the intelligence and positive energy of “at potential” youth to rebuild their communities and their lives.
“There’s a number of people in our community who’ve had limited support throughout their lives, and now this [$1.1 million grant] is going to help mend some of that lack of support,” said Palmdale Mayor Pro Tem Tom Lackey. “It will give them the skills to continue to be successful, because we know that through success is how we get real happiness and sustained happiness.”
The award is the Antelope Valley program’s second $1.1 million YouthBuild grant from the U.S. Labor Department. AV YouthBuild received its first million-dollar award in 2012, after five years of applying (read more here). The program has flourished since then, Johnson said.
“Over the last two years we’ve had great success with young people in this community; we’ve had an 80% placement rate…a more than 75% graduation rate from high school,” Johnson said. “They are community-minded now, and they feel like they belong in the city of Palmdale, in the city of Lancaster.”
One such success story belongs to Bredell Rogers, who said AV YouthBuild kept him “off the streets” in 2012. He said the program helped him get his high school diploma and land a full-time job removing graffiti and cleaning up illegal dumping in the city of Palmdale. Most important, the program gave him mentors, Rogers said.
“My mom is a single parent and she works, herself, so YouthBuild gave me a lot of mentors,” Rogers said. “I saw a lot of successful people around me and it showed me that you don’t have to do illegal stuff. You can choose a job that you actually like and be successful at it.”
Students and alumni are putting the final touches on YouthBuild’s Supportive Housing site, located at 38518 5th Street East in Palmdale. Slated to open within the next month, the half-acre property was developed by YouthBuild participants and alumni to offer shelter to AV YouthBuild students who may be at risk of homelessness.
The Supportive Housing Site is in need of household items to furnish eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, two kitchens, two living rooms, two community rooms and a laundry room. For more information on how you can “adopt” a room, contact AV YouthBuild at 661-266-8900.
For more information on AV YouthBuild, visit http://www.avyouthbuild.com/.
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