Commitment continues program that has changed the lives of young people
The federal government has extended funding through 2020 for the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) YouthBuild of Central Iowa program, a DMACC training program that targets disadvantaged youth.
DMACC received an $808,853 YouthBuild grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant will fund participant's course work and materials, tools, high school equivalency coursework, testing, industry certifications, instructors and stipend. A total of 195 people have completed the program since 2009.
“The new grant shows the effectiveness and strength of our program," said YouthBuild Coordinator Cliff Kessler. “This is a very competitively funded National Department of Labor program. Few funding or refunding requests are honored. It's a testament to the good work of our DMACC staff and our many partners such as Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, the Fifth Judicial district-DSC, Children and Families of Iowa—the provider of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Laborer Local 353 (LiUNA) and many others that we are able to continue to serve the young people in our program."
The DMACC YouthBuild program provides youth ages 18 to 24 with the opportunity to work toward economic self-sufficiency and an advanced education. The seven month, full-time program gives students a chance to earn their high school equivalency, obtain nationally recognized construction and carpentry certifications and earn college credit. Participants also build homes, partnering with several community improvement organizations such as Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity to provide more low income housing for area families.
Kessler said YouthBuild changes the lives of those who, for various reasons whether economic or social, have fallen behind. More than 90 percent of YouthBuild participants have dropped out of high school.
- David Bernal, Victor Soto and Anthony Weyhrauch are all recent YouthBuild graduates, members of Laborer Local 177, employed by the McAninch Corporation and all making a livable wage, with health care and retirement.
- Richard Carter, from the very first YouthBuild cohort, got his DMACC diploma in Architectural Drafting in 2012 and works for Des Moines area architect.
- Matt Gogerty also a YouthBuild graduate of Architectural Millwork at DMACC in 2014 is about to complete his four year degree at Drake University.
- Edward Williams is a YouthBuild Graduate who went on to graduate from the Institute of Technology in Culinary Arts and Baking and is on the managerial staff at the Salaam Seafood Restaurant in Fresno, California.
- Austin Aldridge, after graduation, joined the Army and has been steadily promoted.
- Ted Brightman and Jesus Diaz got their CDL truck license after graduation from DMACC's Work Force Academy.
Kessler said all of these Youthbuild graduates speak fondly of the YouthBuild program and the positive life changing experience it provided them.
“These are people who many have given up on and sometimes they have even given up on themselves, but at YouthBuild we don't give up on people. We see their potential and adapt to their different learning styles," said Kessler. “Participants need to work hard and have a willingness to change. If they do, this program can be the best thing that ever happened to them."
A total of 195 people have completed the program since 2009.