Alaska group recieves U.S. Department of Youthbuild grant

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2007

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced the award of $47 million in Youthbuild funding to 96 groups that will provide education in construction as well as leadership training to at-risk young people across the United States, who will take part in building affordable housing in their own communities.

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"These $47 million in YouthBuild awards will help at-risk youths get the education, training and opportunity they need to achieve a better life," Secretary Chao said.

One Youthbuild grant of $920,000 was awarded in Alaska to SAGA, a 22-year-old nonprofit based in Juneau that provides leadership and skills development programs to young adults statewide. The grant will support SAGA's Young Alaskans Building Affordable Housing program.

Since 1996, the affordable housing program has built two homes in Fairbanks, six in Juneau and three in Sitka with a total of 150 young adults. Program participants include individuals who have been in the juvenile justice system, youth aging out of foster care, and high school dropouts. Under this grant, 32 high school dropouts will spend six to nine months in the Sitka-based program, earn their diploma, a monthly training stipend, an AmeriCorps Education Award, build two affordable homes from the ground up, and transition into jobs or post secondary education or training.

Partnerships are a key component of a successful Youthbuild grant. "The enthusiasm and support for this program by the primary partners in Sitka; the Baranof Island Housing Authority, and the membership of the Sitka Education Consortium, is what made this grant successful" said Joe Parrish, SAGA's executive director. The Baranof authority is contributing two lots for the program and construction materials for two homes. The Sitka consortium has dedicated a classroom for the program in its new SE Alaska Career Center.

There were 322 applicants nationwide, only 96 were funded. Gov. Sarah Palin made the announcement in Sitka on Alaska Day during an open house celebration for Sitka's new Southeast Alaska Career Center. The governor presented a check representing the $920,000 grant award to the three primary partners: Gus Adams with the Baranof authority, Karen Martinsen with the Sitka consortium, and Joe Parrish with SAGA. "People around the state will be watching what is going on in Sitka," said the governor of the innovative project.

Commissioner Bishop of Labor and Workforce Development was also on hand and said his long-standing goal in private life and as labor commissioner has been to create more entry-level job opportunities in Alaska, and to guide young people into apprenticeship programs.

"Young people in YouthBuild can take pride in the fact that they are not only improving their own lives, but also making a positive difference for their families, friends and neighbors," said Emily Stover DeRocco, U.S. assistant secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. "Their participation in this creative program will help them take the first steps toward a variety of rewarding educational opportunities and careers."

The program is now recruiting for participants and some staff positions. The primary recruitment area is Southeast Alaska. For more information, call SAGA at (907) 789-6172.

The US DOL news release can be found at

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