V.I.'s YouthBuild program gets $1M federal grant

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Housing Authority's YouthBuild program has received a $1.1 million federal grant to keep giving young people a chance to learn new skills.

The grant comes from the U.S. Labor Department, and $1.1 million is the maximum grant award.

The money will fund the YouthBuild program for two years, allowing 35 participants to be enrolled each year.

The program is for young people ages 16-24 who are low-income; may have been in the juvenile justice system; have aged out of the foster care system; have dropped out of high school; or are otherwise deemed to be "at-risk."

The program addresses education, social issues and providing job skills and training. In the program, participants work toward their GED or high school diplomas, get certifications in various construction skills and serve their communities by building and renovating low-income housing at the V.I. Housing Authority.

"This award is critical to our YouthBuild Program's ability to strengthen and expand its academic and job preparation components as well as provide the necessary structured services to our disadvantaged and out-of-school young people in preparation for post-secondary education as well as career pathways," V.I. Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Graham said. "The grant is the culmination of the hard work by VIHA's staff, partners, as well as YouthBuild team members and, more importantly, our YouthBuild graduates."

The $1.1 million award is the Housing Authority's second consecutive YouthBuild grant from the U.S. Labor Department since the administration of the grant was transferred from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2006.

The Housing Authority received its first YouthBuild grant from HUD in 2001, and the first grant from Labor was in 2011.

YouthBuild operates in both districts. The main YouthBuild site is located in the St. Thomas-St. John District in the Oswald Harris Court housing community, and the St. Croix District site is located in the Aureo Diaz housing community.

For more information, call 713-2350, 714-2102 or 626-5553.

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