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Urban League of Greater New Orleans receives $1.5M grant

15th July 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fritz Esker
Contributing Writer

On July 2, the National Urban League announced a $1.5 million grant to the Urban League of Greater New Orleans as part of its “Jobs Rebuild America: Educate, Employ, Empower” initiative.

New Orleans was selected for the grant via an open competition. Proposals were scored by an independent panel. For Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans, the grant an­nouncement brought him a special satisfaction.

“It’s always great to participate in something that’s going to bring positive results to New Orleans,” Morial said.

There are several parts to the Jobs Rebuild America program. One is Project Ready, an after school program for middle school and high school students. The program assists children in a variety of ways, from college tours to academic enrichment to SAT prep to leadership development to assistance in filling out financial aid applications and choosing a college.

Another component is the entrepreneurship program, which helps small and minority-owned businesses become better organized. Parti­cipants are assigned a business counselor and attend classes that teach them things like how to create a business plan and a marketing plan.

Funds will also be dedicated to the training for work/adult re-entry program, which is designed to help people recently released from prison re-integrate themselves into society. Over two years, approximately 120 people will be assisted by the program through support services, education and training opportunities, job readiness training, and career placement services.

“We’re trying to help people get back on their feet,” Morial said. “Not just entry level work, but put them on a career path.”

The Urban Youth Empowerment Program will serve 100 juvenile offenders aged 16-24 through case management support, job readiness training, educational opportunities, and mentoring.

The Urban League of Greater New Orleans is excited to receive the grant, which comes at a crucial point in the city’s post-Katrina rebirth.

“This support comes at a critical time as the New Orleans region is experiencing unprecedented growth and investments in infrastructure, oil and gas, healthcare, and technology innovation,” said Erika McConduit, interim president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. “We are committed to ensuring that our youth and small business sector are prepared to participate in the burgeoning economy generated by these investments, and these resources will help to sustain that effort.”

The grant is part of a national, two-pronged campaign by the Urban League. The first part of the campaign is the community investment component, of which the Urban League of Greater New Orleans grant is a part. The second part is a grassroots advocacy component that seeks federal legislative action to create a responsible fiscal plan, highlight the necessity of job creation, and stress the importance of investing in education and skills enhancement of at-risk youths.

Two pieces of legislation currently in Congress include the Urban Jobs Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) and Rep. Chaka Fattah (D, PA) and the Project Ready STEM Act, sponsored by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D, OH).

The Urban Jobs Act would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations to assist them in providing programming to prepare youth for employment, with a particular emphasis on those who dropped out of high school or have been subjected to the criminal justice system.

The Project Ready STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Act would build in-school, after-school, and summer school programs to increase STEM-related coursework and encourage career choices in science, technology, engineering, and math.

This article originally published in the July 15, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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