Northeast Parent and Child Society is seeking to create a first-of-its-kind career development center in Schenectady County to help troubled teens and young adults from surrounding towns.
Northeast is applying for a $750,000 grant from the state to establish the center at 530 Franklin St. The goal is to help more than 1,000 young adults between the ages of 16 and 22 from school districts in Niskayuna, Princetown, Duanesburg, Glenville and Rotterdam.
This is Northeast’s first effort to help at-risk youths residing in the towns, said Peter Stoll, vice president of career development for Northeast and author of the grant. “I do this for youths in Hamilton Hill and now I’m doing it for youths outside the city. There are youths in the towns who are not doing any better than youths in the city.”
Northeast launched its Career Development Center in 2006 and currently has a staff of more than 35 and a budget of about $2 million. It offers several programs to help at-risk youths in the city, such as Schenectady Youth Build. Youth Build is a 12-month program that assists young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 earn a GED.
Schenectady County is submitting the grant, which county legislators approved Tuesday night, because the county is on the list of targeted priorities under the Governor’s Office for Small Cities Program, Stoll said.
Stoll has identified 1,135 youths with low to moderate income who are eligible for the program. The youths either did not finish high school, received education certificates or completed a GED program; many work in low-paying jobs or cannot find jobs that pay well because of their low level of skills.
“This is a population that historically has a hard time getting work. They are going to require much more intensive training and certification,” Stoll said. “If you take this population of 1,000 youths, they are not going to get anything but the jobs no one else wants to do.”
Stoll said the youths typically do not have degrees that qualify them for financial aid at Schenectady County Community College or for any other higher education institution. They also have never received any comprehensive job training services, never received any job certifications and do not qualify for any of the state Labor Department’s designated “Jobs in Demand” program, he said.
Northeast would use the grant to renovate 10,000 square feet of the Franklin Street building’s first floor into a state-of-the-art computer lab and training center. The center would offer 40 career development programs. It owns the building and has offices on the upper floors.
Stoll said he hopes to secure a minimum of 150 new jobs per year in “high-demand occupations” for program participants. These are jobs in computers, digital imaging, graphics, construction, brownfield remediation and as emergency medical technicians.
“The pieces are in place and I am fighting hard for the grant,” Stoll said. “There is $45 million available statewide, and I would like to see a chunk of it come into Schenectady County.”
Stoll said he has secured more than $8 million in state and federal grants, in private funds and from Northeast itself to operate programs for at-risk youths.
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