More than four dozen at risk city youths graduated from the Great Falls YouthBuild Academy on Thursday evening, announced the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC).
The 55 youths had neither high school diplomas nor jobs when they entered the program, but as they leave the program 46 will have their General Educational Development (GED) certificate by the end of the summer, according to the corporation.
47 of the youths have already completed their Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT) qualifying them for entry level jobs in the construction industry.
Nine are in process of becoming Certified Nursing Assistants upon successful completion of state exam. Each of the nine have been put through a rigorous practice regime to almost guarantee passage on the state test.
An additional nine have obtained ServSafe Food Handlers Certification making them employable in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Five have enrolled into college.
The youths, from low-income families with little or no chance for a decent livelihood or future, went through the program’s ten-month academic and vocational training to open new windows of opportunities, earning certificates which will allow them to become working, productive members of society.
“The program serves young adults who have been failed by the system or have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances,” commented David Robertson, director of the program sponsored by NJCDC.
Some of the 55 will be working for the Paterson Housing Authority to build affordable housing in the city at $35 per hour wage.
“Through its unique design, supported by a true wrap-around approach, our program’s students are equipped with practical, real-life experience and skills to rebuild themselves as they rebuild their community,” Robertson said.
The program is one of 264 Youth Build programs around the United States training at risk youths who may not be skilled at studies but are exceptionally adroit at practical skills like building.
“Beyond the certifications they take home, our YouthBuild students leave the program having already made transformative changes in their lives, with a dedication to hard work and a new optimism about their futures,” founder of NJCDC Robert Guarasci said.