Fresno youth program nets $800K grant

The Local Conservation Corps' Swillis Neighborhood Youth Center in Fresno. Photo contributed.The Local Conservation Corps' Swillis Neighborhood Youth Center in Fresno. Photo contributed.The Fresno County EOC's Local Conservation Corps has been awarded more than $800,000 by YouthBuild USA, Inc. to help youths ages 18-24 who may have fallen through the cracks.

YouthBuild USA, primarily funded by the federal Department of Labor, is a network of 273 programs across the US that provide young people job skills, including construction experience on affordable housing projects, while helping them earn their GED or high school diploma.

The grant of $810,340 is part of a total of $8.5 million in two-year awards going to YouthBuild programs in California and other states.

With the grant, the Local Conservation Corps will implement the YouthBuild SMART (Start Making a Real Transformation) program that outreaches to young people even during incarceration, and even provides job training in areas including health care and the nonprofit sector in addition to constrution.

“We are eager to implement the restorative justice component of the SMART program that offers ex-offenders the opportunity to give something back to our community through service and to help organize in the community to prevent crime,” said Brian Angus, Fresno County EOC executive director, in a statement. “Young people who participate in projects that enhance where they live and work are less likely to re-offend, and instead start on the road to self-sufficiency and success.”