Funding extended for DMACC YouthBuild program

Amber WilliamsEditor
Funding extended for DMACC YouthBuild program

The federal government has extended funding through 2019 for the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) YouthBuild of Central Iowa program.

DMACC received an $805,435 YouthBuild grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant will fund participant’s course work and materials, tools, high school equivalency coursework, testing, industry certifications, instructors and stipend. A total of 149 people have completed the program since 2009.

“The new grant shows the effectiveness and strength of our program,” said YouthBuild Coordinator Cliff Kessler. “This is a very competitively funded national Department of Labor program. Few funding or refunding request are honored. It’s a testament to the good work of our DMACC staff and our many partners such as Habitat for Humanity, the Fifth Judicial district, Children and Families of Iowa — the provider of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Laborer Local 353 (LiUNA) and many others that we are able to continue to serve the young people in our program.”

The DMACC YouthBuild program provides youth ages 18 to 24 with the opportunity to work toward economic self-sufficiency and an advanced education. The seven month, full-time program gives students a chance to earn their high school equivalency, obtain nationally recognized construction and carpentry certifications and earn college credit. Participants also build homes, partnering with several community improvement organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to provide more low income housing for area families.

David Bernel, 20, completed YouthBuild in August of 2015.

“YouthBuild is a place that opens doors,” Bernel said. “It teaches you how to get through life and how to live a good life. It’s a great opportunity that changes your life. I am forever appreciative and grateful for what they have done for me.”

Twenty-three-year-old Tyvon Simms is also grateful for the help he received from YouthBuild.

“I completed YouthBuild in August of 2015,” said Simms. “When I think of YouthBuild, the word support and family comes to mind. For seven months we were not just friends and students, but family. I received my high school equivalency certification and a basic fork lift certification. I also have my OSHA 10 safety certificate from YouthBuild. All of these things helped me get my current job and helped me take care of my own child and family.”

Kessler said YouthBuild changes the lives of those who, for various reasons whether economic or social, have fallen behind. More than 90 percent of YouthBuild participants have dropped out of high school.

“These are people who many have given up on and sometimes they have even given up on themselves, but at YouthBuild we don’t give up on people. We see their potential and adapt to their different learning styles,” said Kessler. “Participants need to work hard and having a willingness to change. If they do, this program can be the best thing that ever happened to them.”