urban_league_logo.jpgWEST PALM BEACH – The Urban League of Palm Beach County announced it has received a $780,000 multi-year grant from the National Urban League.

The money will finance  an Urban Youth Employment Program (UYEP) Works initiative.

The announcement came a week before the organization will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The money is part of a $7.8 million Department of Labor grant awarded to 10 NUL affiliates in high poverty communities and will help 100 youth offenders in high poverty/high crime areas in West Palm Beach acquire job skills, work experience, improve educational proficiency and receive mentoring.

The goal is to help participants find permanent unsubsidized employment, the League said.

“We have been doing this work for five years with our partners at the City of West Palm Beach and have seen significant results. This grant is evidence of the impact we have been making working with this targeted population and will help us continue this critical program,” said Patrick J. Franklin, President & CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County.

“Youth offenders lack the guidance and skills to break the cycle and this program will provide them ongoing support and training to improve their lives,” Franklin said.

The program will begin May 1 and applicants must be youth offenders ages 18-24 living in the West Palm Beach.

As part of its Equal Opportunity Day Awards Gala anniversary observances, the league will honor businessman Hansel E. Tookes II, former CEO of Raytheon Aircraft and a former U.S. Navy pilot, with its lifetime achievement award.

The Youth Achievement Award will be presented to Tiareah Jakes and Camille Sanches.

“The Urban League has shown continual growth in the last five years. As the economy (went into) a downturn, we saw an up tick for our services,” Franklin said.

Those services focus especially on jobs and housing and preparing the young for college, he said.

Many people are not ready to enter the workforce, even when opportunities are available, due to lack of job training and skills and low high school graduation rates, Franklin said.

“Over the last four years, we’ve been working with our local Workforce Alliance, preparing individuals to go into the job market,” he said.

“Our goal is to prepare them with the basics.”

Kate Alvarado, vice president of development, said the league has a housing development called the New Urban Community Development Corporation Henrietta Townhome Community, located in Coleman Park.

The $2.5 million development, completed two years ago, serves as a home buyer and financial literacy incubator, helping low-income families become homeowners while they rent, she said.

The league is also helping to redevelop depressed areas such as the Tamarind Avenue Corridor, a historic black neighborhood which was once a thriving business district.

Franklin said the organization has opened a new office at 2007 N. Tamarind Ave., West Palm Beach, equipped with a state-of-the-art computer lab that will offer free computer classes.

Also, a food pantry will soon open at this site due to needs in the community, Franklin said.

Franklin said the organization also works with young people aged 10-18, helping to prepare them for college, work and life, providing service outside the classroom.

“We have a 100 percent graduation rate for kids who have been with the center for at least one year,” he said.

The biggest need this area has is preparing youth to be successful and showing them what success is, Franklin said.

“Young people from different backgrounds have to be exposed. They have to be nurtured to help them understand why it is important to get a good job and education,” he said.