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Schumer Launches Push for YouthBuild Program

(Troy Record, April 9, 2019) — At Schenectady’s Social Enterprise and Training (SEAT) Center, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer launched a major effort to reverse the Trump administration’s proposed devastating cuts to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) YouthBuild program.

YouthBuild is a career-training program in the Capital Region and other parts of New York State that helps at-risk youth from ages 16 to 24 develop trade skills and knowledge to gain industry-recognized job credentials, apprenticeships and employment.

In addition to the successful Schenectady program, Schumer also pointed to a recent grant to the Troy program, which is run by the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO) for the Greater Capital Region, and which uses the SEAT Center to train the students. Together, the Schenectady and Troy programs have helped over 1,000 students gain workforce training in the construction trades, emergency medical technology and culinary services.

Therefore, Schumer called on the administration to reverse course and eliminate the 6 percent cut to YouthBuild and launched a major effort to maintain funding for the program in the appropriations process, to ensure Capital Region youth have access to the tools needed to get and retain good-paying jobs.

“YouthBuild has been a vital lifeline for over 1,000 at-risk young adults in the Capital Region, helping them to learn the trade skills necessary to get and keep good-paying jobs. With such a proven track record of success, YouthBuild is exactly the type of program that the federal government should be boosting funding for, not slashing,” Schumer said.

“That’s why [Monday] I’m urging the administration to reverse course and eliminate the proposed cuts to YouthBuild, and if they don’t listen, vowing to fight with everything I’ve got to maintain funding for the program during the appropriations process. You don’t need to be a youth counselor to know that giving at-risk youth the tools they need to have long and prosperous careers is a thing worth doing—and YouthBuild does just that,” Schumer added.

Schumer explained that last year, he fought to secure over $89.5 million for the federal YouthBuild program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill. However, according to Schumer, the administration’s FY 2020 budget proposal slashed funding for YouthBuild by 6 percent, or $5 million. Additionally, even with the $89 million in federal funding for FY 2019, YouthBuild was still only able to fund 40 percent of the eligible project applications it received.

Schumer said that this illuminates the fact that YouthBuild’s funding should, at the bare minimum, be kept even with FY 2019 levels, and not further reduced.

Therefore, Schumer called on his colleagues in Congress to maintain funding for the essential job-boosting program in the FY 2020 appropriations process.

Currently, there are two YouthBuild programs operating in the Capital Region–in Schenectady and in Troy. Schumer noted that Troy’s YouthBuild program, which is run by CEO for the Greater Capital Region and has been operating for 21 years, received $1.1 million in federal funding from the DOL in February of this year. Schumer explained that the CEO for the Greater Capital Region YouthBuild program partners with the SEAT center in Schenectady, who will be using the $1.1 million in federal funding to foster construction-related skills in at-risk youth in the region. Schumer said that in total, the CEO for the Greater Capital Region YouthBuild program has served roughly 750 students.

Schumer explained that in total, the Troy and Schenectady YouthBuild programs have served over 1,100 students and young adults, helping to prepare them for successful careers by fostering the technical skills needed to acquire and retain good-paying jobs. However, Schumer said, should the administration’s 6 percent cuts to the federal YouthBuild program be signed into law, funding for the two Capital Region YouthBuild programs could be jeopardized, stripping local young adults of critical resources and training.

Schumer said to ensure the Troy and Schenectady YouthBuild programs continue receiving requisite funding to prepare Capital Region youth for the future, he would do everything possible to secure funding for the federal YouthBuild in the appropriations process.

YouthBuild is a job training program under the federal DOL that helps at-risk youth complete high school or state equivalency degree programs, earn industry-recognized certifications for in-demand jobs, and undergo training to build housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities. YouthBuild began 40 years ago in East Harlem, and since then, the program has grown into a network of approximately 260 locations nationwide and 147 active urban and rural YouthBuild grants.