September 19, 2017

$250K grant boosts Hartford's youth job training

The Hartford Foundation is awarding a two-year, $250,000 grant to Billings Forge Community Works and Our Piece of the Pie (OPP) to support the "Opportunity Youth Job Training Program."

Hartford is home to an estimated 6,000 youths, ages 16 to 24, who are neither in school nor working, often referred to as "opportunity youth." They often need soft job skills, training, credentials, and real world work experience that employers demand.

With this grant, Billings Forge said it will manage social enterprises and provide culinary job training for these youth at their Hartford Public Library cafe, while OPP will oversee recruitment, case management and job readiness.

Participants in the 12-week program will earn the nationally-recognized food- and beverage-safety training and certificate program administered by the National Restaurant Association. ServSafe credentials are required by most restaurants as a basic credential for their management staff.

Students will be placed in employment or further training after completing the program.

Through a second program, 60 youths involved with the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) who are still in high school also can participate in a 10-week entrepreneurship program. Targeted youths 17 to 19 can try out different career tracks -- woodworking, culinary, and/or music/video production.

"With this support, OPP is fortunate to partner with Billings Forge to provide another track for Hartford youth to find their economic independence," said Our Piece of the Pie operations chief Hector Rivera.

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