When most young men and women are released from the juvenile justice system, their job prospects are slim. They are so slim, in fact, that only 19 percent find employment upon release. At Youth With Faces, we are changing this statistic for the at-risk youth in our program with help from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.
Each year, nearly 10,000 kids (ages 10-17) come into contact with Dallas County law enforcement. Many have run away from home, often to escape physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Few leave prepared to succeed in college or careers. With 88 percent of juvenile offenders not graduating from high school, they become caught in a perpetual cycle of un(der)employment, poverty and incarceration.
We know if we can get kids back in school or in a secure job after release, their chances of success are far greater. Our results to date helped us qualify for a $225,000 grant from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. The three-year transformative grant will help us provide 200 youth in our program with holistic education and career development training.
Each year, our innovative programs help approximately 200 teens at Dallas County’s Youth Village, Medlock Residential Treatment Center and Letot Residential Center for Girls gain critical skills and education needed to find jobs post release in a number of industries. Through partnerships with Dallas County Community College District we are able to provide computer, culinary, dog training, horticulture, retail and welding programs that train teens for careers they can be proud of.
As a result of our programs, more than 50 percent of youth find employment within a year of release, compared to the 25 percent employment rate among average teenagers. In addition to job training and education, this grant will help us provide valuable financial literacy and post-release mentoring to empower the lives of youth who need our support.