MAY 18, 2011
With no end in site to the nation’s record-high unemployment rate, Obama’s Labor Department is spending nearly $76 million to give low-income juvenile delinquents a “second chance” by helping them get high school diplomas and jobs.The generous allocation of taxpayer funds to save poor dropouts with criminal records was announced this week by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a former California congresswoman who has come under fire for launching a program at her agency to protect illegal immigrants. Under that project, 1,000 field investigators enforce labor and wage laws in industries that typically hire illegal aliens without reporting anyone to federal immigration authorities.Now Solis is on a mission to rescue at-risk teens by throwing $75.8 million at an alternative education program (YouthBuild) that offers training in occupational skills, academics and other important areas such as “life planning,” “healing from past hurts” and “overcoming negative habits and attitudes.” Strong emphasis is placed on leadership development and community service, according to the YouthBuild website.“Every day in America, 7,000 students drop out of high school,” Solis said during this week’s grant announcement in her boss’s hometown of Chicago. “Our nation cannot afford to lose these young people.” The money will go to YouthBuild affiliates in dozens of states as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.Not surprisingly, crime-infested urban areas will get most of the cash. Among the top recipients are Chicago, Sacramento, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Newark and Las Vegas. It’s a worthy investment of taxpayer dollars, Solis assures, because “YouthBuild provides an important second chance to earn an education while also developing valuable skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”Since 2006, the Department of Labor has awarded nearly $300 million to local YouthBuild programs around the nation. Other government agencies, such as the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Energy, Justice and Agriculture, have also kicked in hundreds of millions of dollars in the last few years.
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