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Grand Rapids, Mich., Aug. 28, 2013 -Bethany Christian Services, a global family preservation and child welfare agency, announced it has been awarded $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to implement YouthBuild Grand Rapids. This unique program renovates foreclosed properties into housing for at-risk youth, while providing student workers the opportunity to obtain their GED, construction training certification, and learn valuable leadership skills. YouthBuild Grand Rapids is the newest of 247 YouthBuild programs across the country.

"The YouthBuild program has demonstrated a record of elevating the opportunities and prospects for good, middle-class jobs for thousands of young people throughout this nation," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. "These grants reflect our shared commitment to investing in the future of our nation's youth and the belief that those investments will yield dividends for generations to come."

According to the Home Builders Association of Michigan, 34.3% of builders and 24% of remodelers are having trouble finding workers, and more specifically, 46.2% of builders and 83.3% of remodelers are struggling to find carpenters. Through this innovative program, YouthBuild Grand Rapids will provide the skills and opportunities for young adults to meet this need.

The Kent County Land Bank Authority will provide the foreclosed property, and Bethany is looking for additional sponsors to assist with supplying the building materials and tools, as well as job placements for students after their training has been completed. Bethany also plans to hire a full-time construction trainer, teacher, and social worker who will provide 18 months of case management to help students utilize the new skills they've developed. As a condition of the grant, Bethany is also required to raise $275,000 in local support.

"The YouthBuild model offers young adults the opportunity to create meaningful and lasting changes in their lives," said Ryan Nettesheim, program supervisor for YouthBuild Grand Rapids. "Bethany Christian Services is excited and thankful to participate in this wonderful opportunity for the Grand Rapids community."

YouthBuild Grand Rapids is now accepting applicants age 18-24 to fill its 20 openings for the 2013-2014 training session, which begins in October. Applications are available at Bethany Christian Services at 901 Eastern Ave or online at www.bethany.org/youthCompleted applications must be returned to Bethany by October 1, 2013.

Courtesy: YouthBuild Grand Rapids