FORT LAUDERDALE — President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus plan has come home to encourage a greener environment and to provide training for green jobs.

The Urban League of Broward County has received a $100,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money will go to the organization’s YouthBuild Broward program to teach environmental consciousness and provide job training in environmentally conscious construction work to underserved young people.

YouthBuild Broward is a two-year enrichment program for people 18 to 24 years old who are seeking a GED (general educational development, in place of a high-school diploma) and help starting a career.

“The Urban League of Broward County is extremely pleased to receive this grant,” said Germaine Smith-Baugh, the Urban League’s president and CEO. “We are determined that our participants, who often come from disadvantaged situations, are not left out of the green movement.”

The Urban League will use the grant to create and support a green curriculum and training modules that will focus on energy and atmosphere, water efficiency, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

Coursework will lead to entry-level certifications in these fields for the program’s participants. They will receive hands-on training at local public housing units.
YouthBuild, in its third year, has partnered with the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority to create the new green project.

The federal grant money will help assist the construction and development project. The students will be a part of a 10-month program in which they will learn about the importance and the effects of going green.

The program will provide a “green trainer” in which an accredited professional will teach a course in leadership in environmental energy and design.

“Properties are going to be more energy and economically efficient,” said Jeaneen West, the Urban League’s workforce development program manager, adding that the program’s overall goal is to give participants skills that make them more marketable for employment.

“We assist with transforming lives,” West said. “We provide a unique program where we give the participants an opportunity to obtain their GED with a dedicated instructor.”

West continued: “We also teach them life skills: case management and money management. We also give them hands-on construction experience.”

The YouthBuild Broward staff also prepare participants for opportunities once they leave the program. Some of the participants have criminal records.

“We stick with them for 12 months after the program ends to make sure they are employed or in college,” West said.

Jasmine Chance, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, is one of the success stories. She completed the YouthBuild Broward program and started an apprenticeship with the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority.

Chance has a grand-theft charge on her record. She said it was hard to get a job afterward. She said the program helped her with that issue.

“It helped me move forward,” Chance said. “It helped me look at life from a different perspective.”

She said the program gives young people a wide range of knowledge “from construction training to the importance of volunteering.”

She commended her counselors (including West) for always being there for her and getting her back on the right path.

Like Chance, about 50 percent of those who have participated in the program are employed.

Program organizers expect to start presenting smaller “green” projects in early 2010, and to develop and expand the program in the future.

For more information on the Urban League of Broward County’s YouthBuild Broward program, please call 954-584-0777 or log onto