Students from the Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE) YouthBuild are back in Greenville.
Last week, there were 16 students who went through orientation or mental toughness week, where they went through various tests to see if they will be able to handle the program. Only 13 out of the 16 made it through the mental toughness, and their training started this week.
The 13 students will be a part of the training until February, when they will join a larger group of about 60 students in total who are already in the program.
This week, students are studying for their General Education Development (GED) test during the day and the second half of the day, they will be doing construction training.
With the 42nd annual MS Blues and Heritage Festival taking place this weekend, students will be assisting and constructing any last minute items needed for the festival as a part of their training.
Bob Boyd, Delta Force of Washington County’s construction chairman who often assists YouthBuild with their projects, said one of this year’s goals for the students is to complete one house for the Greater Greenville Habitat for Humanity and begin to work another house when the first is completed.
“They will be doing working on one house as of now, but once that one is complete, the students will begin working on the next one,” Boyd said.
Earlier this year, MACE’s YouthBuild program received a $1,098,000 grant from the United States Department of Labor, which was the largest amount in the Delta. Of those funds, the cash amount given over the time of the program is $810,000, which will help to get equipment needed, paying staff and more. The other $210,000 will come from in-kind contributions.
Boyd said the U.S. Department of Labor issues the grant money throughout the program rather than allocate it all at once.
“U.S. Department of Labor issues the money throughout the program. We are authorized to spend the money for program and it has to go toward everything we say we are using it for. Our federal program officer checks in and make sure we use the money for what is supposed to be used for,” Boyd said.
YouthBuild is a community-based, pre-apprenticeship program that helps at-risk youth, ages 16-24, complete high school or state equivalency degree programs and earn industry-recognized credentials for in demand occupations in construction and other industries. Programs involve home building skills focused on providing housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families.
“The YouthBuild program has a positive impact on Mississippi by offering youth opportunities to advance their education and gain valuable workplace skills,” Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith previously said. “I’m pleased the Labor Department has approved these resources to continue offering opportunities to more youth in the Mississippi Delta.”
Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations committee, which has jurisdiction over YouthBuild and other federal job-training programs.
As part of the appropriations process last year, Hyde-Smith supported funding for the program and sought information on ensuring its benefits for rural communities.