UNION COUNTY, NJ - The Youth Employment Pathways Program (YEPP), a pilot program that is a partnership between the Union County Freeholder Board and the United Way of Greater Union County, has put 60 at-risk youth to work part-time in various industries throughout Union County beginning this week. The program runs through June.
"YEPP is designed to assist in school and out of school youth between the ages of 14-24 with the necessary tools they'll need in order to successfully graduate high school and/or secure employment," said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. "The Freeholder Board is proud to be sponsoring this program through United Way, and we look forward to continuing a more expansive jobs program for at least 200 more youth later this year once the pilot is complete."
James W. Horne, Jr., President and CEO of United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC), added: "The United Way is working in collaboration with the Freeholder Board, non-profit agencies through the County, and our private sector partners to provide training and on-the-job experience to those who might otherwise lack access to these opportunities. The program is geared to helping disadvantaged youth achieve their goals and work toward obtaining credential certifications, enter higher education and/or secure employment."
UWGUC was awarded a federal Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Workforce Development Board to implement YEPP. Non-profit agencies and private sector businesses recruited the youth, who were at-risk, financially disadvantaged or parenting teens, from various communities for the program.
Freeholder Chairman Granados added: "We will continue to find new employment opportunities for our residents. Last year we provided over 2,500 opportunities through our Workforce Innovation Business Center, but this year we wanted to put an additional focus on helping to empower and employ at-risk-youth in our communities. As someone who grew up in an urban area, I strongly feel that if we had more of these types of opportunities, some of the people I grew up with wouldn't have gone down a troubled path."
The program provided training as needed, and part-time jobs (15-hours a week), pay was between $10-$15 an hour, in various industries, including government, non-profits, and jobs in the private sector, including the retail and construction industries.
The non-profit agencies in Plainfield and other Union County towns that UWGUC partnered with include:
- Community Access Unlimited
- Communities in Cooperation, Inc.
- Elizabeth Housing Authority
- Urban League of Union County, Inc.,
- Proceed, Inc.
- Second Street Youth Center
- HomeFirst, Inc.
- Plainfield Housing Authority
- Workforce Advantage Inc.
Information regarding the YEPP can be found on the United Way website at https://www.uwguc.org/yepp, or by calling 908-353-7171.