Labor Department Announces $75 Million in Education Grants for ‘Out of School’ ‘Youth’ Ages 16-24

By Penny Starr | August 31, 2012 | 10:07 AM EDT

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis ( Starr)

( - Labor Secretary of Hilda Solis announced on Wednesday that $75.7 million in grants are being distributed to organizations that help “out of school youth” earn a high school diploma and learn occupational skills.

The “at-risk individuals” who will benefit from the grants are ages 16 to 24.

“Many participants have been in the juvenile justice system, are aging out of foster care, have dropped out of high school, or are otherwise at-risk of failing to reach key educational milestones and opportunities that lead to career fulfillment,” the press release states.

Solis said the YouthBuild grants help “young people” and the communities where they live.

"YouthBuild offers young people the opportunity to earn academic and industry-recognized credentials, practice the skills they'll need to succeed at work, and experience what it means to contribute to their own success and that of their communities,” Solis said in announcing the funding.

The grants range from $700,000 to $1.1 million and will fund 74 YouthBuild programs in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The money “will help nearly 5,000 young people obtain the certifications and skills necessary to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” according to the Labor Department.

The grant funding was appropriated by Congress for DOL's Employment and Training Administration for fiscal year 2012.

This round of grants will expand training beyond construction to include health care and information technology training, according to the Labor Department.

The construction projects include building or rehabilitating homes for low-income or homeless people while the other training includes “leadership development and community service elements.”

Including these latest grants, the federal government funds 127 YouthBuild programs around the world, according to the Labor Department.

The latest grant recipients include a substance abuse program in Montgomery, Ala., ($1,043,130) an Indian tribe in Ukiah, Calif. ($1,031,841) and the YWCA of Western Massachusetts ($1,100,000).