Community

A local nonprofit that offers education and job training to support low-income young adults is getting $1.5 million from the federal government to expand its services in Louisville. 

YouthBuild Louisville offers services and skill training to at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in order to connect them with in-demand industry jobs.The nonprofit will spend the grant money over the next two years on YouthBuild Louisville’s operational funds, which includes staff needs, uniforms and resources for students. The grant will also allow the program to expand its annual class size from 35 to 45 students. 

Governor Andy Beshear joined Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth to announce the grant Monday. Beshear applauded the program, and said it is “on all of us” when youth fall through the cracks.

“We’re here celebrating a $1.5 million grant, but you cannot put a dollar figure on a life that we’re able to lift up — on maybe a trajectory we’re able to turn around,” Beshear said. “They’re giving back every single day, and rebuilt lives in a rebuilt community is about the best that you can ask for for any program.”

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear with U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announcing a $1.5 million grant Youthbuild Louisville wonKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear with U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announcing the $1.5 million grant.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which, according to a press release, gave 67 grants totaling up to $85 million to YouthBuild programs across the country. YouthBuild Louisville President and CEO Lynn Rippy said the DOL analyzes grant applicants when choosing who will be awarded, reviewing their performance, how much community support they have and the severity of their community’s needs.

YouthBuild Louisville has marked success in recent years. Between 2010 and 2018, 88 percent of its students earned a high school diploma, GED or career certification, and donations have helped fund a $1.5 million expansion to the program’s campus. But Rippy said there’s still a huge unmet need in Louisville, and organizations like hers should provide youth the resources they need.

“It’s immoral to me that we allow young people to be able to move through life without the supports they need. And it is also true that many young people are not born with those supports,” Rippy said. “We have to level the playing field.”

Mayor Fischer said other city programs like SummerWorks, Reimage, and the THRIVE Fellowship work to help disconnected youth.

“These programs work, but what we need is more funding,” Fischer said. “It’s a city priority, it’s a state priority, but it should be a national priority as well.”

Fischer said he will push for state and federal funds to support such programs.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.