YouthBuild Rockford receives $100,000 education grant

From press release

YouthBuild Rockford, a highly regarded program of Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc. (CCS) that provides low-income young people who have dropped out of high school in the Rockford area with vital opportunities to become productive, self-supporting adults, has received a $100,000 three-year  grant from YouthBuild USA as part of their National Schools Initiative.

The goals of the initiative are to decisively increase the numbers of students graduating with a high school diploma and ready to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. YouthBuild USA currently supports 29 YouthBuild programs that have evolved into diploma-granting schools chartered by states or certified as alternative schools by local superintendents. With this support, YouthBuild programs are working on the cutting edge of educational reform, demonstrating that a new type of small, personalized school can succeed with students who are dropping out of traditional schools. With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, YouthBuild USA provides targeted educational assistance and training for these schools, helping them improve their performance and transition from GED-granting YouthBuild programs into diploma-granting schools.  The latest grants were awarded to YouthBuild programs in Palmdale, Calif., San Antonio, Brockton and Lawrence, Mass., and McArthur, Ohio.

“We are delighted to receive the funding we need to continue recovering the increasing number of young people dropping out of school, and helping them achieve success both in education and employment,” said Kerry Knodle, executive director of CCS.  “Raising the education bar is not something we shy away from, but rather embrace as we seek to improve the long-term prospects for our students.

“This grant will allow us to investigate and pursue all available options to become a diploma granting school. We will continue to look at the creation of a Green Charter School, although District 205 has rejected that option three times. There are many  barriers to re-engaging low-income, out-of-school youth, some of which pertain to the educational system, and some in the community at large. With our other Green initiatives, we will certainly include Green education and job training in our enhanced curriculum,” Knodle said.

CCS is a nonprofit organization in Rockford that works with young adults, ages 16 to 28, who have dropped out of high school. In the YouthBuild Rockford program, low-income youth enroll full-time for a year to earn their GEDs while they learn jobs skills by building affordable housing for low-income or homeless families. YouthBuild Rockford helps students become leaders in their own communities. Funds from this grant will be used to improve curriculum, purchase needed educational materials, forge new partnerships with secondary and post-secondary institutions, teacher development, with a goal of increasing the numbers of diplomas granted and enrollment in post-secondary education.

“Investing in young people who are seeking a second chance to complete their high school diploma and learn job skills is one of the most valuable things this country can do. Without these programs, we know we will lose many more young people to lives of crime or poverty,” said Dorothy Stoneman, president of YouthBuild USA.

From the May 12-18, 2010 issue

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