Longietti, Sainato: $800,000 to help Mercer and Lawrence county youth progress from justice system to workplace

HARRISBURG, Dec. 20 – A grant of $800,000 from the state Department of Labor and Industry will help provide a smoother, more successful path for youth in Mercer and Lawrence counties transitioning from the justice system to the workforce, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, and state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, announced today.

“The resources funded by this grant will make a huge difference for so many young people who may have started out on the wrong path in life,” Longietti said. “The benefit of education, mentoring, vocational training and other hands-on programs will get them back on their feet and open doors. It will also send an important message that we believe in them and in their ability to overcome a rough start in life.”

Sainato agreed, adding, “Funding to retrain and redirect youth whose past actions may have landed them in the justice system is an investment that stands to pay off on so many levels. It gives young adults a chance to prove themselves and become productive citizens, it reduces the burden on taxpayers who would otherwise have to support them, and it replenishes our economy with members of the community who can give back to it.”

The lawmakers said that the grant to the West Central Workforce Development Board will allow the board to conduct needs assessments to determine skill sets and training gaps, the need for supportive services and training options, as well as literacy instruction, career exploration and mentoring. Youth participants will be placed in paid work experience or on-the job training.

The grant is part of a package of $5.8 million in Youth Reentry Demonstration Project grants to 10 local workforce development boards. Among other things, the programs funded blend academic and job training, support mentorships and connect youth to area employers in high-priority jobs.