U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin (both D-MI) announced today that YouthBuild in Grand Rapids will receive a $1,047,494 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. YouthBuild is a community development program designed to help young people who have dropped out of high school to earn their GEDs or high school diplomas while also preparing them with essential job skills and serving their community. Specifically, this organization teaches young people ages 16-24 clean energy construction skills as they build low-income housing.
"As new clean energy businesses come to West Michigan, it is vital that we are preparing Michigan workers with the skills necessary for these news jobs," said Stabenow. "YouthBuild will help West Michigan students complete their high school or GED education and train them for the jobs of today. It will also make Michigan's workforce more competitive and attractive for innovative new businesses."
"This program will get West Michigan out-of-school youths back on track, providing them marketable skills and getting them on the path to earning a GED," Levin said. "These federal dollars will help make sure these students don't slip through the cracks and are afforded the opportunity they deserve to build their lives and contribute to society."
"Habitat for Humanity of Kent County is all about partnerships and transforming lives so we're very pleased to host YouthBuild USA in West Michigan and sincerely appreciative to Senators Stabenow and Levin for helping make this possible," said Mary Buikema, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. "This project offers us another chance to offer low-income young adults a hand up--not a hand out. Participants will be offered cutting-edge green building experience and certification through our LEED certified Habitat home construction projects. For Habitat, it will mean one of our NSP rehab homes will be fully staffed by YouthBuild participants who will work with a homebuyer family on site, everyday. Perhaps more important, YouthBuild will help us carry out our mission to revitalize families and neighborhoods through our partnership with these young adults."
The grant is awarded to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, located in Grand Rapids, which partners with several other organizations in the community to make YouthBuild possible. This program consists of a combination of classroom learning, learning lab, and workshop instruction where students will be trained in clean energy construction skills, specifically in the areas of deconstruction and weatherization, as well as in skills necessary to start their own businesses.