WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today introduced legislation that would expand Youth Corps programs throughout the nation. The Youth Corps Act of 2010, cosponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Tom Udall (D-NM), will amend the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to establish a competitive grant program to assist states and local communities in replicating and expanding Youth Corps Programs.
"This is about turning today's students into tomorrow's leaders," Brown said. "This program will build stronger communities, while preparing our young people for the jobs of the 21st century. All Ohio students deserve the opportunity to get ahead."
"We can prepare youth to become productive members of our communities by giving them the support and guidance they need to thrive," said Udall. "By expanding Youth Corps programs nationwide we are building on proven methods of preparing America's future workforce."
The core components of the Youth Corps model include:
• opportunities for educational advancement, including secondary school completion and preparation for postsecondary education;
• work experience, skills training, and career counseling;
• collaboration with other youth serving systems, such as child welfare and juvenile justice, to provide and coordinate support services for vulnerable youth;
• partnerships with local workforce and education systems, including labor, employers, postsecondary institutions, and community-based organizations, to develop pathways to postsecondary and labor market success; and
• post-program support.
The grants, awarded to states and municipalities, will be awarded for a period of three years with an option for renewal. In the Youth Corps model, adult leaders serve as mentors and guide crews of 8-12 Corps members as they gain the paid work experience and learn the skills that are essential to the development of a strong work ethic and success in the workplace. Corps members also receive a living allowance, classroom instruction to improve basic academic competencies, complete high school, and prepare for postsecondary education, and a wide range of supportive services. Additionally, they participate in technical skills training and leadership development.
Ohio is currently home to several youth corps program including:
• City Year Cleveland
• City Year Columbus
• Ohio Division of Forestry
• Ohio Woodlands Job Cops
• WSOS Quilter Conservation Corps
Modern Youth Corps, descended from the Roosevelt-era Civilian Conservation Corps, operate in 44 states and the District of Columbia. With an emphasis on environmental stewardship, Youth Corps across the country have delivered strong education, workforce readiness, civic engagement, and personal responsibility outcomes for 600,000 youth since 1976. Today, the 143 Corps enroll nearly 30,000 young people. More than half of the participants come from families with incomes below $20,000, are members of racial or ethnic minorities, and lack either a high school diploma or GED.
Nationally, there are an estimated 3.5 to 5 million youth, age 16 to 24, out of school and out of work, with an additional half million youth dropping out of school each year. Evidence demonstrates that these individuals are more likely to spend their lives periodically unemployed, on government assistance, and/or cycling in and out of the criminal justice system. Rather than contributing to the economy, these individuals are likely to put a strain on it.