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Benton Harbor's Youth Build program gets a big boost

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BENTON HARBOR, Mich - Benton Harbor’s Youth Build program is receiving a big boost thanks to a nearly $1 million federal grant.

The federal grant is spread out over three years and is coupled with local contributions to fund the program.

“This program is about a half million dollars a year all in when you consider the federal money and the local money that we spend and it’s well spent, kids are learning not only trades, construction, they’re learning leadership, communications, they’re learning teamwork, they will be ready to go when they leave the youth build program,” Benton Harbor Youth Build Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affair Al Pscholka said.

Youth Build is a program with international reach, with a local chapter in Benton Harbor that works to help young adults to get a second chance at succeeding.

The program’s requirements are people ages 16 to 24, students that dropped out of High School and low income residents.

“They taught me a lot, and I have big plans and big future goals, I wanna get into construction but more like open construction so I can do anything like pipe work, concrete, tile setting you know you name it all I wanna be a jack of all trades,” Youth Build alum Amari Williams said.

Benton Harbor Youth Build Director Caleb Weeks said students are guided not only during the program but after they graduate as well.

“Youth Build is really here to help students become the best version of themselves so when a student enters our program they have the opportunity to earn a GED or their High School Diploma, we partner with the Bridge Academy for that and they can earn certification and training and they can connect with employers and or apprenticeships,” Weeks said.

Williams said this program helped him grow into the person he is today.

“It’s a program that helps you build your character and that helps you become an adult,” Williams said.

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