Natchez Housing Authority receives $720,000 for youth program

Published 12:30 am Saturday, January 20, 2018


NATCHEZ — A $720,000 grant awarded to the Natchez Housing Authority has enabled the return of an internationally renowned program to help at-risk youth get a second chance at life.

The Youth Build Program aims to help youth age 16 to 24 who are unemployed and not in school. Members of the pre-apprenticeship program learn construction skills while constructing or rehabilitating affordable housing for low-income or homeless families while also working toward their high-school diploma or GED.

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“I’m just a firm believer that everybody deserves a second chance,” NHA Grant Coordinator Bridgett Pollard said.

The NHA in December received the grant money, awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

Natchez will join the approximately 210 actively funded Youth Build programs across more than 40 states, which serve a combined more than 6,000 youth per year.

The program also teaches youth leadership skills, provides counseling and mentorship, and assists in job and college placement.

Pollard said the program’s magnitude is immense for Adams County.

“Natchez has a high percentage of high-school dropouts,” she said. “We also have a low percentage of programs that target a second chance for youth … this is the second chance that our youth need.”

Pollard said the funding would allow the Youth Build program to last for 36 months, at which point the housing authority can reapply to continue the program.

The Youth Build program has impacted the Natchez area in the past, but Pollard said several years had gone by since the Natchez program received funding.

The program intends to hire a GED instructor, construction instructor and program director. Information about job qualifications and further detail is available by contacting the WIN Job Center.

Youth interested in the program can contact Pollard at 601-446-5301 ext. 12.