Delta Democrat Times

$1 million grant announced for MACE

By Jeri Borst

Local YouthBuild program obtains federal support

YouthBuild programs in the Delta have been granted $2.7 million dollars, with programs in Greenville, Clarksdale and Yazoo City each scheduled to recieve a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Mississippi Action for Community Education, Inc., (MACE) in Greenville was awarded the largest amount in the Delta at $1,098,000.

The Mississippi Delta Council for Farm Worker Opportunities, Inc. in Clarksdale was awarded $901,228, and Gateway Community Development Corp. in Yazoo City will receive $700,000.

YouthBuild assisted residents faceing hardships after a 2016 flood damaged several structures.

Where insurance companies and federal and state agencies were unable to fully pay claims for some residents, MACE and the YouthBuild program were able to lend a hand.

Starting in November 2016, approximatly 15 members of YouthBuild students assisted several homeowners in a matter of weeks by tearing out wet walls, carpet and floors.

Barbara Brooks, MACE board member, said the grant announcement "is exciting news," and would have more information about plans for the YouthBuild project at a later time.

MACE is a nonprofit, minority rural development organization dedicated to stimulating physical, social and economic development in the Mississippi Delta.

YouthBuild is a community-based, pre-apprenticeship program that helps at-risk youth, ages 16-24, complete high school or state equivalency degree programs and earn industry-recognized credentials for in-demand occupations in construction and other industries.

Programs also involve home building skills focused on providing housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families.

"The YouthBuild program has a positive impact on Mississippi by offering youth opportunities to advance their education and gain valuable workplace skills," Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, said. "I'm pleased the Labor Department has approved these resources to continue offering opportunities to more youth in the Mississippi Delta."

Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over YouthBuild and other federal job-training programs.

As part of the appropriations process last year, Hyde-Smith supported funding for the program and sought information on ensuring its benefits for rural communities.