08/02/11 — Community service program aiming to educate youth, teach useful job skills

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Community service program aiming to educate youth, teach useful job skills

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 2, 2011 1:46 PM

Youths lacking education or work skills are encouraged to investigate an opportunity to gain both, as Smart Choices for Youth implements an $875,000 federal grant in the coming weeks.

YouthBuild, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, targets youths between the ages of 16 and 24 who may have been in the juvenile justice system, have aged out of foster care or dropped out of high school.

Its goal is to provide an opportunity to earn a high school diploma or GED certificate, while teaching a trade and compensating them for community service.

Orientation started Monday and youth are invited to apply.

"The two-week orientation is mandatory for candidates that want to be considered for the YouthBuild program," said Daryl Woodard, executive director and founder of Smart Choices.

Woodard said the federal program has the potential to provide training and education for 50 candidates, whom he hopes will take advantage of the opportunity.

"Candidates will be selected based on their participation and qualification," he said. "At the end of the two-week period, they'll be notified (if chosen) and get a stipend from Smart Choices for Youth and a weekly stipend for community service for working with Habitat for Humanity."

The orientation sessions will be held at Eastern Chapel Church, 1401 N. Carolina Street, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekdays through Aug. 12. Applicants are still being accepted today and are asked to bring identification, including proof of age and residence.

Partners in the administration of the grant include Wayne Community College, Wayne County Public Schools, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Habitat for Humanity, law enforcement and the Employment Security Commission. Wayne Food Initiative is also providing food for the participants.

"Wayne Community College will be offering classes to them, will work with the youth," Woodard explained. "Students will be able to get their GED or high school equivalency from WCC online."

In addition to working on the educational component, over the next two years those in the program will be taught a trade and practice it while working with Habitat.

For more information on the program, 735-0008. Teachers, parents, law enforcement officials, ministers and others can also recommend a candidate.