Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation Awarded $1.5 Million Federal Grant for Skilled Trades Program

The Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation (GRCCT), a multi-agency collaborative, was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for its YouthBuild program.

Through GRCCT’s YouthBuild program, young adults ages 18-24 in the Madison Square neighborhood of Grand Rapids, are taught occupational construction and trade skills. Students engage in workforce preparation and leadership activities, assist with active construction projects in the community, and receive mentoring from local professionals.

Graduates of the course are certified under the Home Builders Institute Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT). Participants can also earn their GED and national customer service and sales certification.

45 students have graduated from the program since 2017, and 82 percent have secured employment in construction or another skilled trade.

“YouthBuild aligns with the mission of GRCCT to provide opportunities for transformation in one of the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Grand Rapids,” said Justin Beene, Founder/Curator of GRCCT. “We’ve seen youth overcome significant barriers during their time in the program through the unique family-like and atmosphere we have created here. They gain key relationships with staff who genuinely care about them and have similar life experiences. From here young men and woman are able to gain technical expertise to secure well-paying jobs, leading to financial stability, which positively impacts our neighborhood.”

Students like 24-year-old Marcus has had to overcome significant hardships. When he first enrolled in YouthBuild, Marcus was experiencing homelessness and inconsistent employment. He completed his GED, worked with a case manager from Bethany to find stable housing, graduated from the program with his PACT certification, and was offered a full-time construction job with a local partner of GRCCT.

“YouthBuild helps youth like Marcus gain their GED and the skills they need to find stable employment, while Bethany addresses past trauma youth may have experienced, and connects them to local resources that can help them thrive,” said Rachel Willis, Bethany’s vice president of regional operations in the Grand Rapids and East Lansing region.

The new grant provides funding for YouthBuild through 2023 and allows GRCCT to increase enrollment in the program from 62 students per cohort to 84.

To support GRCCT and the YouthBuild program, email [email protected] or call (616) 254-7739. Learn more about GRCCT by visiting their website.

About the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation GRCCT is a multi-agency collaborative consisting of social enterprises Building Bridges Professional Services and Rising Grinds Café, the Grand Rapids Chapter of the NAACP, and nonprofits Bethany Christian Services and the Nehemiah Project. GRCCT was founded in 2015 with the goal of fostering collaboration among partners on their common vision of transformed communities.

About Bethany Bethany is a global nonprofit that supports children and families with world-class social services, all designed to help families thrive. Over 75 years ago, we began our work by serving a single child. Today, we work in more than 30 states and more than a dozen countries worldwide, serving more than 50,000 people every year.

** About YouthBuild ** YouthBuild is part of an international movement aimed at providing educational opportunities for youth in low-income areas, giving them the skills they need for employment, and to become leaders in their communities. YouthBuild USA has a network of 252 programs across 46 states and YouthBuild International has a presence in 19 countries.