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Youthbuild Transfer Act Passes the Senate

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U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) announced that last night the Senate passed the YouthBuild Transfer Act (S.3534) by unanimous consent. Senator DeWine serves as an original cosponsor of the bill, which would transfer the administration of the YouthBuild program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the Department of Labor (DOL). The YouthBuild program enables young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 to complete their high school education and achieve on-the-job training in construction skills. Students build or renovate single family homes and multi-family apartments which are sold at affordable prices, to low- and very low-income persons as well as homeless individuals and families. Since the YouthBuild program is, at its core, an employment and training program for disadvantaged youth, transferring the program to DOL would help strengthen the connections to the broader workforce investment system and enhance the job-training and employment opportunities available to at-risk youth. At the same time, the bill also retains the program's other purpose of providing affordable housing.

"YouthBuild is an inspiring program that dramatically improves the lives of young people by channeling their energies into serving others," said Senator DeWine. "I have met many of the hopeful participants this program supports in Ohio, and I have seen first-hand that the program works. This bill would deepen the program's commitment to providing these at-risk young people with training, jobs and a brighter future."

This bill would authorize new education and workforce investment activities, including occupational skills training, internships and job shadowing, alternative secondary school services, community service and peer-centered activities, and comprehensive guidance and counseling. In addition, the bill emphasizes "registered apprenticeship programs," focusing on programs leading to certifications that meet accepted industry skills standards, and consequently, provide better access to occupations in demand.

Since YouthBuild's inception in 1990, 60,000 youth have built over 15,000 unites of affordable housing. Today there are over 226 YouthBuild programs in 43 states engaging 8,000 young adults. Research on 900 YouthBuild graduates, several years after they had completed the program, showed that more than 75 percent of them were either employed at an average wage of $10/hour or were attending college and positively contributing to their communities.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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