April 21, 2000             No: 00-44

Contact: Sean O'Brien        Phone:  907.465.4892

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Labor and Workforce Development Funds to Help Alaska's At-Risk Youth

Young Alaskans having trouble completing high school or finding and keeping a job will benefit from a new wave of federal training and employment grant funds now available through the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. "Approximately $1.2 million for in-school and out-of-school youth programs through the Workforce Investment Act will help young people who have either dropped out of high school or have gotten a diploma and are looking for work," Labor Commissioner Ed Flanagan said.

These grants are part of a national and statewide focus for designing and reinforcing year-round community youth services and resources leading to academic and job success. The Labor Department's Employment Security Division has just issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to distribute the grant money to organizations throughout Alaska. Youth program grantees are typically educational or nonprofit agencies that specialize in youth employment and training services. The deadline to respond is May 15, 2000, except in Northwestern Alaska, served by the Labor Department's Nome Job Training and Work Readiness office, whose deadline is May 22, 2000.

"The idea is to prepare young people for the day when they'll be supporting themselves and possibly a family," added Flanagan. Services typically funded include academic, occupational, vocational, work readiness, and life skills training to give youth the right credentials to contribute as productive members of Alaska's workforce and economy.

Agencies awarded youth grants in the past include the Kuskokwim Native Association for a community garden in Aniak. To cultivate good work habits among youth, teenagers 14-18 were hired to tend the garden and grow food for the village. For many, it was their first job. They also attended classes to improve math and reading skills, write resumes, and prepare for job interviews. A testament to project's success is the fact that the former teen gardeners are now working as local school aides, in maintenance jobs for the city, as cargo handlers at the local airport, and have worked at the Donlin Creek exploratory gold mine site.

Traditionally, federal grant funds were separately available for summer youth programs, but under the new Workforce Investment Act, all youth employment and training money is combined for annual distribution and linked to academic and occupational learning outcomes. The ultimate goal is to create and maintain a range of educational and employment incentives to help youth become self-sufficient in their chosen careers.

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