YouthBuild Again Wins Funds to Work with Dropout Juvenile Offenders

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Eight months after being stripped of a $10 million Department of Labor (DOL) grant it  received to help dropouts and juvenile offenders gain marketable skills, YouthBuild USA has garnered another Labor grant to do roughly the same thing.

The announcement late yesterday by the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration of the YouthBuild award is the latest twist in the year-long, tangled tale of the department’s efforts to assist these unemployed youth.

Dorothy Stoneman, CEO of the Somerville, Mass.-based YouthBuild, said she didn’t know the inner workings of the decision-making on the new grant. With federal grants “it’s a shake of the dice, and this time we won again,” said Stoneman. “I think it’s all completely apolitical, if you can believe that.”

The new grant is one of two $8.5 million grants to provide “meaningful job training and other employment preparation to at-risk individuals ages 18-24.”

The grants are funded by the department’s 2010 appropriations and, the announcement said, were awarded through a “competitive process open to national and regional intermediaries with experience conducting multi-site projects that have demonstrated success with formerly incarcerated young adults.”

In June 2010, ETA notified YouthBuild and Washington, D.C.-based The Corps Network that each would receive a $10 million grant, funded with 2009 appropriations. Those two grants were to “serve young adult (ages 18 to 24) offenders and high school dropouts in high-poverty, high-crime communities” by preparing “these individuals for employment,” according to the request for proposals published in the Federal Register.

Then, in November 2010, ETA informed both organizations that it was vacating the grant awards. The department later announced that the grants were being awarded, instead, to Public/Private Ventures and the Latino Coalition for Faith and Community Leadership. But their selection has also been challenged and no funds have been expended.

“They told us the selection process for awarding the grants and their grant review process was challenged,” Corps Network CEO Sally Prouty told Youth Today in May. “Then they vacated the grants, issued new standards for review process, impaneled new reviewers, and ultimately the grants were awarded again.”

While ETA was re-scoring the grants from 2009 appropriations, it put out the solicitation for 2010 funds, which contained the same wording as the solicitation a year earlier.

YouthBuild USA had selected eight YouthBuild sites for the 2009 funds. The organization will have to go through another round of sub-grantee applications for this award, Stoneman said, but she “hopes to pick up where we left off somewhat.”

The Corps Network, which had planned to use the 2009 funds to work with 600 formerly incarcerated youth at six of its Civic Justice Corps sites, competed for the 2010 funds, but did not win.

The other 2010 grantee is Mid-Atlantic Network of Youth and Family Services (MANY), a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based organization with a background in runaway and homeless youth services that has a long history of partnerships with the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), a division of the Administration on Children and Families at the Department of Health of Human Services.

MANY was one of 10 regional networks funded by FYSB until the agency consolidated its training and technical assistance into one national center based in Oklahoma. MANY was also a training and technical assistance provider for FYSB’s Mentoring Children of Prisoners project, which has since ended.

“I am sure through the runaway and homeless youth network they can bring a lot of strength from community programs serving vulnerable youth in many cities across the country,” said Harry Wilson, who served as director of FYSB for former President George W. Bush.