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Labor Department Supports Youth Mental Health, Out-of-School Learning

The U.S. Department of Labor addresses mental health and expands local work-based learning for youth.

May 16, 2024

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continued its support of the youth workforce with two new initiatives this week. First, coinciding with May’s designation as Mental Health Awareness month, the department’s Job Corps centers will host events from May 20-24 to create supportive environments where students can discuss their mental health issues and seek solutions. 

Job Corps centers are hosting these activities during Youth 2 Youth (Y2Y) Week 2024, focused on Job Corps’ student-led Y2Y initiative that aids in combating violence and drug use and supporting mental health on campuses. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Job Corps is a federal career technical and education program for eligible young people, and provides hands-on career skills training, health care, and job search assistance to students. The program has more than 120 residential and non-residential U.S. locations.

The DOL also made available US$40 million in grants for national out-of-school time organizations to expand local work-based learning opportunities, job training, and career pathways for underserved youth during non-school hours.

The Workforce Pathways for Youth demonstration grants will help these organizations partner with state or locally operated affiliate organizations that serve historically marginalized and underserved youth, ages 14 to 21. Priority will be given to organizations serving Native American youth. 

Through the partnerships, out-of-school time organizations will introduce youth to career-related services, provide work-based learning experiences, and occupational skills training. They will also offer unsubsidized employment placements to increase opportunities to gain the skills youth need to be successful in post-secondary education and employment.

TheDOL’s Employment and Training Administration will award the fourth and fifth rounds of these grants. Through funding authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the Workforce Pathways for Youth grants will be awarded through two competitive rounds with $20 million immediately available for the fourth round. The remaining $20 million for the fifth round of funding is pending availability of fiscal year 2025 appropriations.

Last week, the DOL held its first Youth Apprenticeship Week to spotlight the  Registered Apprenticeship program opportunities for youth, as CMM previously reported. In April, CMM also reported the department awarded $10.5 million to fund the first year of four, five-year cooperative agreements aimed at assisting youth and young adults with disabilities—particularly in underserved communities—in successfully transitioning into the workforce.

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