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$1M grant to build homes, train youth

Participants will earn certification in construction trade.

A local nonprofit has received a more than $1 million federal grant to certify local young people in the construction trade, beginning later this year.

Opportunities for Individual Change of Clark County, known as OIC, received the nearly $1.08 million grant through the U.S. Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program, which provides classroom and occupational instruction to at-risk individuals ages 16 to 24, the department announced last week.

OIC will use the grant to provide on-the-job training to 60 residents through the construction of two homes in Springfield over a 40 month period, OIC Executive Director Mike Calabrese said. Participants will leave the program with a certification in the construction trade

“They’re going to walk away with a viable job skill that, no matter what happens to them throughout the rest of their life, they’ll always be able to fall back on this training that they’re going to receive,” he said. “And that, of course, is paramount for them to make a sustainable living wage for the rest of their life.”

OIC was one of only five Ohio programs to receive an award. Nearly $72 million was awarded to 68 programs in 33 states and the District of Columbia, according to labor department.

Participants will receive a monetary stipend, paid for by the grant.

The program will also incorporate soft skills such as job seeking, special tutoring and GED instruction. “All the things that are required for anybody to seek and maintain employment,” Calabrese said.

Planning will likely begin later this month, but Calabrese said OIC still is waiting for details from the Department of Labor. He said the projects likely will begin later this year.

OIC has two lots picked out to build on, but if they don’t meet the labor department’s requirements, the agency will work with the city of Springfield to identify other lots.

He expects the homes to be put up for sale once completed, but that has yet to be decided.

Funding and instructional partners include Job & Family Services of Clark County, Springfield City Schools, The Turner Foundation, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center, C & N Contractors, Kapp Construction, Pro Plumbing and the OSU Extension-Clark County.

The construction companies will provide instructional training and some in-kind services, Calabrese said.

Recruitment will be from OIC’s various other programs like the Summer Youth Program that will serve 120 young people this year, as well as the courts, Springfield City School District and other programs.

YouthBuild is a nonresidential, community-based alternative education program that leads to a high school diploma, general education development or other state-recognized equivalency diploma, while providing participants with industry-recognized certifications in construction or other occupations, according to the labor department

OIC provides counseling, youth programming and alternative high school education, vocational training, referral services, job placement assistance and emergency utility services to assist low-income Clark County residents in becoming self-sufficient.

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