Resident Services News
LINCing Young People to YouthBuild.
YouthBuild is going strong in the Grand Rapids area, and LINC has helped the process along. LINC is working with YouthBuild and its partners to spread the word about this transformative program, which provides low-income young adults ages 18-24 with tools and training to get certification and jobs in the construction industry.
Workforce development is a key component of healthy communities, and so LINC helped spread the word about the program. Program Manager Amber Fox said that nearly all of the program members came from a flyer that was given out in a LINC newsletter.
“LINC’s involvement was important because this is a program meant for community change; it’s got to be something that is embraced by the community to be sustainable,” she said. “That awareness has been growing as a result of LINC.”
The program, which is a partnership between Habitat Humanity of Kent County, Bethany Christian Services, and the U.S. Department of Labor, is in its second class in Grand Rapids. Students spend time in class working towards various goals from GED to college prep to job placement and interviewing skills and then spend the second half of the day doing hands-on construction. After they complete the course they are placed in internships to gain more experience, with the ultimate goal of getting a job.
LINC’s leadership is also on the board to help the program grow. By linking people in Grand Rapids to YouthBuild, LINC can help cultivate new jobs in neighborhoods and revive the communities from within.
“LINC works to connect people to opportunities, and workforce development is a key part of community revitalization,” LINC co-executive director Jeremy DeRoo said.
It turns out that the LINC community engagement team and word of mouth have been the most important piece of the puzzle. Amber said that most of her students got the flyer from two or three different people – an auntie, a granny, a neighbor or someone else.
“I think it reinforces it for them that this is not just another social service program, this is something that is bigger than that because they are hearing about from people they know in their communities,” Amber said.
Since YouthBuild was started in Harlem 35 years ago it has been about giving young people tools and training to get good jobs and improve their lives. But Amber said it is more than that, too.
“This is about helping young people find their voice so that they can be leaders, and they can change the world.”