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OIC seeking dropouts for project

Springfield project targets at-risk people ages 16 to 24.

Opportunities for Individual Change of Clark County is seeking recent high school dropouts for its $1 million YouthBuild project.

The organization is working with the city to build a new single-family home on the corner of Jackson Street and Broadway Avenue, according to OIC Executive Director Mike Calabrese.

The nonprofit received a 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. They were one of only five cities in Ohio to receive the award. Calebrese believes Springfield is the smallest city to receive the grant.

“It will teach them mental toughness and help them get their education and skills in the construction trades,” Calabrese said.

They’re looking for up to 60 high school dropouts — young men and women — to participate in the program, which will help them become self-sustaining individuals. Participants will receive incentives for weekly attendance, punctuality and passing tests.

They’ll build two houses over a two-year period. They hope to begin work on the first home in mid-November. The program director is Neal Browning, a Springfield High School assistant boys basketball coach.

“We’re cranking it up,” Calabrese said. “We’re in the recruitment mode. We’re making great progress.”

The city’s Community Grant Advisory Board recently approved $50,000 in HOME funds for the project, according to Ed Leinasars, the city’s housing rehabilitation coordinator. City commissioners will likely vote on the funding later this month.

The home will likely be sold by the city to an income-qualified family, Leinasars said, but the details are still being finalized.

Leinasars said the city is excited about building another new home near the new hospital. The city recently renovated several new homes in the area through the federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Project.

“We wanted to continue the efforts,” Leinasars said. “This gave us an opportunity to keep the flame going in that area.”

For more information or to pick up an application, call 937-323-6461 or visit OIC, 10 S. Yellow Springs St.

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