July 24, 2018
Young adults from high-crime and high-poverty areas of Champaign County now have an opportunity to improve the long-term outlook of their lives thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. Awarded to the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission (RPC) for a Young Adult Reentry Program, the grant will provide funding to help the RPC offer training and employment assistance to the program’s participants.
The RPC’s Young Adult Reentry Program will be comprised of young adults from 18- to 24-years-old who reside in targeted sections of Champaign County characterized as both high-crime and high-poverty. Although the Illinois Department of Employment Security reports that Champaign County added 1,400 jobs in 2017, young adults who live in areas of high poverty and crime face serious challenges to seeking and sustaining employment at a living wage.
According to RPC Chief Executive Officer Dalitso Sulamoyo, the grant will strive to address barriers faced by individuals who have transitioned from the justice system so that they can attain gainful employment in the Champaign County area. “We will be leveraging our ongoing workforce development efforts and the work of community-based organizations working with our youth in Champaign County,” Sulamoyo says. “It’s our goal to help young adults in Champaign County overcome specific barriers to employment and reduce recidivism.”
The RPC is one of only 41 nonprofits and local and state governments across the United States to receive a Reentry Project grant. The Department of Labor awarded funding to organizations to create models offering apprenticeship opportunities and increased employment outcomes for eligible participants. Their hope with these programs is to protect community safety by ensuring that participants who successfully exit the programs are provided with positive opportunities to engage in employment or education.
Now that the $1.5 million grant has been awarded, the RPC will use a variety of methods to recruit Young Adult Reentry Project participants, including in person, the RPC website, social media, and written materials. The RPC will actively recruit participants from alternative schools and Adult Basic Education programs, the WIOA One-Stop Center, Parkland College, all police jurisdictions, Champaign County Probation and Court Services, and local non-profits that serve young adults with justice system involvement.
For each of the project’s participants, the RPC will track and report on six WIOA performance indicators, including education and employment rate, median earnings, credential attainment, measurable skills gains, and effectiveness in serving employers. The RPC will also track and report on enrollment rate, recidivism rate, occupational skills training rate, and placement rate. Working with career planners, participants will establish their own career goal plans in a way that promotes self-determination and choice and results in solid employment opportunities within the project timeframe.
Including finalizing of plans, recruiting of participants, implementation of services, and follow-up with each participant, the RPC’s Young Adult Reentry Program will operate for 39 months, with an end date of September 30, 2021.