Urban Education Partnership Awarded - First Ever Grand Rapids Youthbuild Grant

Calling it “a triple win for the young people who participate in the program, the local communities that benefit from their efforts and our nation as a whole," Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced the awarding of just over $1 million to the multi-agency YouthBuild program in Grand Rapids.  The local award is one of only 31 funded nationwide.

The Grand Rapids YouthBuild program is a partnership of three reputable local organizations – Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Grand Rapids Community College and Bethany Christian Services.  

According to the Department of Labor, YouthBuild’s goal is the continued preparation of young people for good jobs.  The program’s target population is disadvantaged or at risk youth (ages 18-24) including youth who are exiting the County’s foster care, juvenile justice, mental health, homeless youth and refugee resettlement systems. Participating students will learn how to build a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified home during the educational program working alongside the Habitat homebuyer family who will purchase the home at a zero-percent interest, 25- year mortgage upon its completion.

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County will serve as the project applicant and fiduciary and be responsible for contract management, program administration, quality controls, grant and outcome reporting, construction site acquisition and family selection for home ownership. Grand Rapids Community College, through their Workforce Training programs, will provide staff for GED completion and a 36-week building trades program. Bethany Christian Services will serve as the project “gatekeeper”, coordinate referral and job placement partners, recruit and assess candidates, provide ongoing case management and youth development activities, design an employability curriculum, and provide post-curriculum follow-up services for those in the program. In addition, seven community organizations will serve as referral and follow-up partners and another six collaborators will serve as job placement partners.

The unique feature of the Grand Rapids YouthBuild program is that all educational and training experiences will specifically equip youth with skills and professional credentials in “green construction” provided hands-on at a Habitat for Humanity home construction site. This is a direct pathway for students to be highly successful upon entering West Michigan’s emerging green marketplace and construction employment opportunities.

The Grand Rapids YouthBuild program will consist of the following components in order:

  • an intensive two-week orientation and “mental toughness” module
  • a 36-week education and construction program (18 in class, and 18 on the Habitat construction site learning hands-on skills)
  • four weeks of employability and job readiness training
  • group opportunities for leadership training, youth development and civic engagement, job internships job shadowing, apprenticeships and job placement services
  • a 12-month period of support, follow-up and outcome tracking

For more information, individuals can contact Chris Hall, Habitat Director of Construction Operations, at cjhall@habitatkent.org or 616-588-5236.

About Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County is an ecumenical nonprofit organization serving God, building hope and transforming lives for families who otherwise could not afford a home of their own. This year, HFHKC is celebrating its 28th year, 300th home built and over 1,300 families serviced since being founded in 1983. HFHKC has the goal of serving 500 additional families within Kent, Eastern Ottawa and Northern Allegan Counties by 2014 through its home building and neighborhood revitalization programs. For more information, visit www.HabitatKent.org.

About GRCC

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 32,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties. For more information, visit www.GRCC.edu.   

About Bethany Christian Services

Bethany Christian Services is a Christ-centered, not-for-profit, pro-life, adoption agency with more than 80 locations in 32 states and orphan care and other ministries in more than a dozen countries.  Bethany is the largest adoption agency in the country and placed 1,950 children nationwide in 2010. In addition to adoption services, Bethany provides pregnancy counseling, family counseling, foster care programs, refugee services, orphan care, and an infertility ministry called Stepping Stones. Bethany was founded in 1944 and is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit www.bethany.org.