St. Charles Youth & Family Services announced that it has secured a $1 million Project JUMP START grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Southwest Key Programs’ national headquarters to launch new initiatives designed to help hundreds of at-risk youth and young adults in Milwaukee to develop work experience and job skills. At a news conference this morning, St. Charles announced the first initiative of Milwaukee’s 26-month JUMP START program – the “Milwaukee’s Youth Making a Difference Initiative.”
Milwaukee’s Youth Making a Difference Initiative will provide approximately $80,000 of in-kind labor to faith- and community-based nonprofit organizations. The initiative is being coordinated in partnership with the Milwaukee County Delinquency & Court Services Division, which is identifying area youth participants who meet federal eligibility criteria. The Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board is also a partner helping prepare youth for employment and identifying area busineses willing to hire participants.
“Southwest Key is excited and honored to be partnering with a well-respected community agency in St. Charles Youth and Family Services,” said Adam Wollmer, director of employment and training at Southwest Key Programs. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership in assisting Milwaukee youth.”
More than 100 nonprofit organizations were invited to identify projects for this first initiative. St. Joan Antida High School, Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ, and Unity Lutheran Church are the initial three nonprofit organizations that will have a nine-member youth crew and two youth crew supervisors for a six-week period to complete specified projects on behalf of the organization. Additional organizations will be getting work crews in the coming weeks.
“We’re very pleased to be able to participate in this program and have a youth crew help us advance our mission in the community,” said Paul Gessner, Head of School at St. Joan Antida High School. “This is one way our school can help fulfill its mission of bettering the community while helping others better themselves.”
In addition to working on projects, youth crew members will attend weekly workshops on personal skill development, job readiness and financial literacy. They will also participate in weekly volunteer community service projects.
“I want to thank the U.S. Department of Labor and Southwest Key Programs for the funding that is helping to make this initiative a reality,” said Cathy Connolly, St. Charles Youth & Family Services President. “This is a great opportunity for our community and it would not happen without the commitment being exhibited by the federal government, Milwaukee County, the partner organizations and all the participants.”