HACE awarded $1.5M to establish YouthBuild Elizabeth Program

Marks three months of empowering young adults in the City of Elizabeth to gain access to career training & resources

The Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth is marking three months since the launch of its new program, YouthBuild Elizabeth.

In May 2022, HACE was the only organization in the State of New Jersey to receive a YouthBuild grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

YouthBuild Elizabeth aims to provide participants with the “keys to success” as they pursue advantageous career paths. YouthBuild Elizabeth helps young adults, ages 16-24, from the City of Elizabeth earn their high school diploma equivalency. Participants can receive six months of classroom GED® instruction, job placements, and support services.

More than $90 million in grants were awarded to 68 organizations across the nation “to prepare young adults not enrolled in school or participating in the labor market for jobs in construction and other in-demand industries through apprenticeship and other career pathways, especially jobs that support clean energy technologies.” HACE received the largest award possible, a $1.5 million grant, which will positively impact the lives of approximately 84 young adults over a 40-month period.

On August 30, YouthBuild Elizabeth held its first open house at Mravlag Manor. A young man from the City of Elizabeth, Shalik Sims, shared that he was biking back and forth to a GED® program that was five miles away from his house. Eventually, he stopped because of the 10-mile round trip. Having the YouthBuild Elizabeth program right where he lives will give him the opportunity to finally pursue his dream of getting a high school diploma. Shalik Sims stated, “I’m also excited about telling my girlfriend about this program because of the opportunities YouthBuild offers for those with a high school diploma. She can start on the medical track immediately. I want to tell a lot of my friends about YouthBuild Elizabeth.”

As HACE’s newest initiative, participants of the YouthBuild Elizabeth program benefit from a supportive environment, the opportunity to obtain a high school diploma via the GED exam, paid training, job placements, national certifications, and stipends for meals, transportation, and community service. Participants will also gain access to career training and resources such as GED classes, onsite construction training, offsite medical programs, other types of in-demand training, construction and medical certifications, leadership development, career development, computer training, and opportunities to attend college and participate in additional training programs.

“YouthBuild Elizabeth is the next step we are taking to enhance opportunities not only for our residents here at HACE, but for the greater Elizabeth community.” said William D. Jones, Executive Director of HACE. “We are eager to set our young adults up for success and provide them with a range of trainings and opportunities to assist them in selecting careers they are passionate about.”

Three months since the launch of the program, YouthBuild Elizabeth participants have begun taking GED® and/or career courses, with a total of 19 participants enrolled in the program. On December 8, HACE’s Jobs Plus team and the YouthBuild Elizabeth team held a Meet and Greet for residents in the community.

YouthBuild Elizabeth’s official open house launch event will take place in January 2023, date to be determined. Elizabeth residents will be able to meet the YouthBuild Elizabeth team and enroll in the program.

Cathy Hart, Deputy Executive Director of HACE, celebrated YouthBuild Elizabeth’s launch, “In 2021, we began offering our Jobs Plus Program to adults in Mravlag Manor, and we are excited to expand the access to career resources through our YouthBuild Elizabeth initiative to all Elizabeth residents age 16 to 24. The Jobs Plus program has had a massively positive impact on nearly 200 of our residents, many of which have already been able to secure long-term employment; plus, over $250,000 in rent has been disregarded for our residents through the Jobs Plus Earned Income Disregard. We know firsthand how being able to offer job seekers a little help can go a long way.”

HACE’s YouthBuild Elizabeth program promotes two core industries to young adults: construction and health care. HACE has partnered with Trinitas Regional Medical Center, RWJ Barnabas Health among numerous other partners, to provide training and resources. Trinitas Regional Medical Center’s Vice President & Chief Development Officer Laura Ciraco shared, “Trinitas Regional Medical Center looks forward to interviewing eligible YouthBuild students for employment opportunities.”

For more information about HACE’s YouthBuild Elizabeth program, contact Marie Thelusma-Chase, CFRE, YouthBuild Elizabeth Program Director, at 908-965-2400 ext. 130 or visit www.hacenj.com/youthbuild.