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Youth Program Funded
Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services has partnered with the Urban League to save a youth program that works.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Charlotte, NC The Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS) announces plans to provide $250,000 in funding to the Urban League of Central Carolinas to help at-risk youth become self-sufficient members of our community. 

The Urban League Youth Empowerment Program (UYEP), a three-year-old pilot program, provides an educational and training bridge for at-risk young adults, ages 18 - 21, to prepare for the workforce, support the needs of area employers and serve as a true community and business collaboration model. 

This partnership will work with key DSS populations: clients who fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty limit, young adults in foster care who are about to age out or who have aged out, high school dropouts, youthful offenders and current Work First participants. 

"We are committed to working with community-based organizations to provide viable programs and services to assist us in achieving the County's 2015 goals of increasing literacy and workforce development and increasing citizen self-sufficiency," said DSS Director Mary Wilson. "It is our firm belief that when we collaborate with successful programs, we can leverage County dollars efficiently and effectively to deliver a wider range of services to the citizens." 

Maintaining an 80 percent success rate of having participants enter job placements, job training, enrolling in college or enlisting in the military, the program will assist the County's strategic goals of increasing literacy, workforce development and citizen self-sufficiency. 

"Ms. Wilson's innovative thoughts about partnerships will benefit Mecklenburg County residents greatly. With DSS' support of UYEP we will be able to deal with a population that has diverse needs but deal with them in innovative ways," said Patrick C. Graham, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Urban League of Central Carolinas. "We have to be willing to take the risk of trying different service strategies. The Urban League's cultural competencies and the DSS' case management system will be a winning combination." 

The funding provided by DSS will go a long way in extending the program for another year.  However, the Urban League will continue to seek private donations from individuals and local foundations to supplement DSS funding.  DSS will evaluate further funding opportunities and provide referrals to the Urban League, which will increase the number of clients served by the agency. 

This program combines the similar missions and audiences of DSS and the Urban League of at-risk, out of-school and/or adjudicated young adults in the areas of education, employment and life skills. DSS anticipates that clients from the following programs will participate:

         Work First: North Carolina's program to administer the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families federal block grant. The focus of the program is to get recipients employed and self-sufficient. Recipient's income falls below 200 percent of the federal poverty limit.

         LINKS: A unit that assists youth who have aged out or are about to age out of the County's foster care system via outreach services, life skills training, finding housing and employment and the pursuit of higher education.

         Family and Child Evaluation Team (FACET): A unit that provides intensive case management to families of delinquent youth at risk of entering the County's foster care system who have been referred to DSS by the juvenile court system.

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