US Department of Labor Awards $75.7 Million in YouthBuild Grants

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
DOL Secretary Perez with YouthBuild Houston student (Photo from U.S. Dept. of Labor)

Last month, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez visited Camden, N.J., to tour the facilities of YouthBuild Camden, which serves young people ages 16-24 by providing education, occupational, job development and life skills classes.

There, he met Donny Leaming, a young man born and raised in Camden. Before coming to YouthBuild, he felt that he was going down the wrong path and saw he was headed toward a life on the street. Initially, he came to get his GED.  Instead, Donny told Secretary Perez that what he got was courage, self-confidence, motivation, and personal strength. He is now working at the Housing Authority of the City of Camden and doing maintenance work on the side, hoping to lead to a full time job there. 

Today, the department announced the award of nearly $76 million in YouthBuild grants to support additional academic and occupational skills training for at-risk youth like Donny. The grants range from approximately $700,000 to $1.1 million each and will fund 72 YouthBuild programs in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The funding will serve an estimated 4,800 participants over the course of the next three years.

“Success should never be determined by where a person starts out in life,” Secretary Perez said. “YouthBuild provides participants with the resources they need to reach their full potential and the job skills they need to lead them to a place in the middle class. Closing opportunity gaps for America’s young people is not just as a matter of basic fairness, it’s also critical to maintaining our competitiveness in the global economy.”

This is the first round of YouthBuild grants awarded under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The law, which went into effect on July 1, 2015, led to several changes to YouthBuild including putting a greater focus on improving the quality and energy efficiency of buildings serving low-income and homeless individuals and families; enabling students who leave the program to re-enroll more easily; and supporting further program alignment with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

YouthBuild's mission aligns closely with the goals of President Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative, which seeks to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can realize their full potential.

For more information about the Department of Labor’s YouthBuild Program, visit

Read the original release and see a list of all grantees, their locations and award amounts on