Millions in new federal grant dollars have been awarded to organizations in Los Angeles that are working to address challenges faced by people involved with the criminal justice system.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today that a total of $2.36 million in U.S. Department of Labor grants — intended to help break destructive cycles of poverty, crime, and incarceration — have been won by the Youth Policy Institute and Volunteers of America of Los Angeles.
“People shouldn’t be defined by the past or their circumstances — we need to support them with a mind toward their future,” said Mayor Garcetti. “I’m going to keep pushing to make sure that everyone in L.A. has the opportunity to get good-paying jobs and build lasting careers.”
The awards were included in $64.5 million in grants announced today by the U.S. Department of Labor. The program is part of a series of actions taken by the Obama Administration to reduce recidivism and promote reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals.
“America works best when we field a full team, but far too many people who have been involved with the criminal justice system are being left on the sidelines,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “These grants are an important step in fulfilling our promise as a land of second chances by moving beyond locking people up and instead working together to unlock their potential.”
As part of today’s announcement, Volunteers of America of Los Angeles was awarded $1.36 million for the Training to Work program, which will offer returning citizens in a state or local work release program an opportunity to participate in a career pathway program that includes education and workforce skills training. The program will serve individuals in high-poverty and high-crime areas, including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-designated Promise Zones. Participants will also be offered case management, mentoring, and follow-up services.
The Youth Policy Institute received $1 million for the Pathways to Justice Careers program, which will provide mentorship and career training to youth ages 16-21 who are at risk of dropping out of high school, becoming involved in the criminal justice system, or are already hampered by juvenile records. Justice and emergency services personnel will mentor students to explore career paths as police officers, firefighters, lawyers, paramedics, and other related professions. Participants will be encouraged to graduate from high school or earn a high school equivalency degree and to either enter the workforce or pursue further pertinent training or post-secondary education.
Mayor Garcetti has put a special focus on assisting underserved populations in Los Angeles that include formerly incarcerated men and women. Last year, he opened an Office of Reentry that is creating opportunities for people who have served time in jail or prison and need help getting a new start.
In May, the Mayor’s Office of Reentry announced an $8.93 million agreement with Caltrans to connect 1,350 formerly incarcerated men and women to permanent employment. Mayor Garcetti has also signed an executive directive instructing City departments to prioritize L.A.’s most underemployed communities — including veterans, the formerly incarcerated and disconnected youth — in the hiring of more than 5,000 employees over the next three years.
“The organizations receiving these new grant dollars work tirelessly to give all citizens, regardless of their past, second chances to be their best selves,” said Kimberley Baker Guillemet, Manager of the Mayor’s Office of Reentry. “We are thankful for their partnership, and grateful for the Department of Labor’s efforts to give justice-involved people access to careers that are the gateway to upward mobility.”
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