The body count rising almost nightly among Philadelphia’s at-risk urban youth population, along with mounting reports of rising crime and unemployment rates among that same populace amounts to a collective plea for help. The Department of Labor is at least partially answering that call, thanks to a nearly $1.5 million grant.
The grant of $1,499,989 will go to the North Philadelphia-based non-profit People For People Inc., which will use the funds for its “Project Restore” program, which trains, educates and otherwise reforms young adult ex-offenders.
The grant is part of the DOL’s national $50 million, two-pronged initiative aimed at curbing youth violence and unemployment; a little more than $19 million will go to programs serving incarcerated juveniles in high-poverty, high-crime areas; with the remainder going to programs that serve formerly incarcerated juveniles and young adults.
New York will receive two grants of the first type, joining it with Texas and Iowa; People For People Inc. joins the second group, which is comprised of more than 20 non-profits across the country, and also serves as Pennsylvania’s sole grant awardee.
“These young people deserve a chance to turn their lives around,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, in a statement released via the DOL. “The federal grants will help youth receive the training and support they need to gain valuable job skills and improve their long-term employment prospects.”
Congressman Chaka Fattah, instrumental in People For People obtaining the grant, said, “This important grant from the Department of Labor will help People For People continue to rebuild the lives of low-income minority young people who have had a brush with the law.”
People for People, Inc. will also be able to expand its Employment, Advancement and Retention Network (EARN), which has led the non-profit’s rehabilitative efforts since its 2006 inception.
According to the DOL, the grants will serve young adults age 18 to 21 who were involved in the juvenile justice system but never convicted as an adult. Those enrolled in the program will receive high school diplomas to go along with industry-grade training. Operated in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, EARN itself runs two initiatives: the Career Development Component and Work Support Component.
“Reverend Herb Lusk and the People For People Inc. organization he founded deserve high praise. They continue the tough, necessary work of rescuing and lifting up some of Philadelphia’s most challenged, at-risk young people,” Fattah said. “Restoring ex-offenders to function in our society through training and education is critical, not just to the individuals involved, but to the entire community.”