Category: PYN | Jun 27, 2016
PHILADELPHIA - What’s next for the 600,000 people released from federal and state prisons annually, millions more leaving county and local jails, and others in danger of falling into the cycle of poverty, crime and incarceration? With the help of $64.5 million in grants announced today by the U.S Labor Department, the answer for some will soon be in-demand skills, access to good jobs and a stronger foundation of support within their communities.
To address the employment and life challenges faced by many people involved with the criminal justice system, the department is awarding grants to 40 organizations providing services in 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia through four programs - Reentry Demonstration Projects for Young Adults, Training to Work, Pathways to Justice Careers, and Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release.
Philadelphia was one of seven awardees of the Pathways to Justice Careers initiative, which will provide mentorship and career training to youth ages 16 to 21 that are at risk of dropping out of high school, becoming involved in the criminal justice system or already have juvenile records. Justice and emergency services personnel will mentor students to explore career paths as police officers, firefighters, lawyers, paramedics and other related professions.
This grant will use a career pathways model - an articulated sequence of rigorous academic and career/technical courses resulting in educational and skills credentials - adapted for in-school youth. Participants will be encouraged to graduate from high school or earn a high school equivalency degree and to either enter the workforce or pursue further pertinent training or post-secondary education.
The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) will serve as the lead on the grant, which awards $1 million over 33 months beginning July 1, 2016. To implement the project, PYN will convene and lead a leadership team comprised of organizations with existing capacity and complementary services focused on youth: Philadelphia Works (the Local Workforce Development Board), School District of Philadelphia (SDP), the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS), Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), JEVS Human Services (JEVS), Workforce Institute (WFI), and the Police Athletic League (PAL).
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to leverage the expertise of our valued partners to level the playing field for youth in Philadelphia,” said President and CEO of the PYN, Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend. “It does not matter where you came from, or what happened in your past, your future can be filled with endless possibilities. What matters the most to strengthening our city is that we work together to safeguard a future that is full of equity, opportunity and economic prosperity.”
The project connects several initiatives that have prioritized the education and employment outcomes of juvenile justice system-involved youth, including: Project U-Turn, SDP’s recently-established Opportunity Network, and STRIVE Forward, a U.S. Department of Labor Face Forward grantee. Given this momentum, the time is ripe for Philadelphia to increase youth employment and high school graduation rates; decrease incarceration and violent crime rates and coordinate these efforts to build greater understanding between law enforcement and communities.
“We are so appreciative of this opportunity, the second Federal grant that our city has received in the past several weeks that will help our youth succeed,” said Mayor James Kenney. “This opportunity both complements and aligns with two priorities of our city, helping at risk and juvenile justice involved youth, and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, supported by the Philadelphia Office of Black Male Engagement. We look forward to working together to ensure that every young person has the support they need to reach their full potential.”
About the Philadelphia Youth Network
The Philadelphia Youth Network is an intermediary organization dedicated to equipping young people with the skills necessary to accomplish academic achievement, economic opportunity and personal success. To succeed in this mission, we bring together cross-sector partners from around the city to expand access to services for underserved youth ages 12-24.