During press conferences Monday in Birmingham and Bessemer, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, AL-07, announced millions in grant funding from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) for job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth. The Bessemer Housing Authority and Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) will each receive 1.5 million from the DOL’s YouthBuild program to support the development of apprenticeship and other career pathway models that prepare at-risk youth for jobs in construction and other in-demand industries, especially clean energy. The awards are part of a $90 million investment by the Biden-Harris Administration to grow America’s clean energy workforce with education and training for young adults.
“This announcement is truly a win-win for our community,” celebrated Rep. Sewell. “By connecting at-risk youth with job training and education, this funding will provide our most vulnerable young adults with the resources they need to succeed, all while growing our green energy workforce. Once again, I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for making transformational investments in our community!”
“We are delighted to be awarded the Department of Labor YouthBuild Grant to help provide the youth of Bessemer, Alabama with additional resources, furthering their education and preparing them to become productive citizens in our community,” said Courtney Coleman, Executive Director of the Bessemer Housing Authority.“We believe these funds along with our community partners will work together to ‘Build Better Lives’ and ‘Deliver Hope’, which is the mission here at the Bessemer Housing Authority.”
“This is a monumental win for our agency,” said HABD Board Chairman Dr. Anthony Hood. “This award allows us to equip our most promising youth with the tools needed to thrive in an ever-competitive workforce. The demand for skilled trades and apprenticeships has never been stronger, and this grant allows us to place our young people on a direct path to the careers of the future.”
“Often, when a child drops out of school, society takes it as a sign that they have given up hope that life can get any better for them. This grant allows us to seek out those youth and give that hope back to them,” said HABD President and CEO Dontrelle Young Foster. “With this award, HABD can prepare residents for quality jobs and promote the attainment of skills necessary for success in this knowledge-based economy. This is a win not only for the clients we serve at HABD but also for the entire City of Birmingham.”
Following its Nov. 23, 2021 announcement of available funding, DOL awarded 68 grants—ranging from $700,000 to $1.5 million—to organizations in 28 states and Puerto Rico to deliver job training and employment services. Participants will engage in classroom learning that will prepare them for work-based learning opportunities building and rehabilitating affordable housing for low-income or homeless families in their communities.
Participants will split their time between workplace training and the classroom, where they will earn a high school diploma or equivalent degree to prepare for postsecondary opportunities.
Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, the latest YouthBuild grants complement the Biden-Harris administration’s workforce priorities to advance equitable career pathway opportunities, quality jobs and climate sustainability by supporting programs that provide construction skills focused on green building techniques, including understanding sustainable building materials, solar panel installation, weatherization processes and the use of Energy Star appliances. These announcements will also further President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative that commits to delivering at least 40 percent of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.
For the first time, the YouthBuild funding opportunity announcement included criteria that awarded bonus points for applicants that demonstrated their ability to provide training in green construction techniques, training the next generation of workers for resilience and clean energy careers of the future.
YouthBuild programs also train young people for employment in healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and logistics, culinary arts, and hospitality.