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YouthBuild Evansville Aims to Give Students More Opportunities / EyewitnessNews on May 24, 2013
By Chris Veech

The unemployment rate for young adults in Indiana is 15 percent. That’s nearly double the rate for the rest of the workforce. One local program aims to reverse this trend and help high school dropouts get their GED and ultimately a job.

Kimbra Young dropped out of high school last year. The self-proclaimed troublemaker says she needed a change of pace and joined YouthBuild. Now, just a few weeks from graduation, she says the program has played a ‘huge’ role in her maturity.

“I feel kinda different,” said Young. “A woman instead of a girl, an adult instead of a child.”

She says she can’t wait for her mother to see her walk across the stage in a graduation cap and gown.

“I’m gonna feel very proud of myself,” said Young, “that I accomplished something that I never thought I could accomplish. So, I can finally say ‘I have my education!'”

YouthBuild is a program in which high school dropouts go to school several days a week, perform community service, and receive on-the-job training.

“YouthBuild Evansville is here basically to catch those who have fallen through the cracks,” said Program Manager George Flowers.

Flowers says most of the students who go through the program are headed to technical schools and colleges.

Congressman Larry Buschon attended the YouthBuild event. He says the workforce is changing, and young adults need to adjust to those needs.

“Traditional manufacturing jobs and other types of jobs are not as available for young people as they have been in the past,” said Bucshon.

Buschon says he understands a four college degree is not for everyone.

“There are a lot of jobs out there,” said Bucshon. “We have a skills gap, and we need to narrow that gap.”

As for Young, she says leaving the YouthBuild program is bittersweet.

“I love being here,” said Young. “Don’t want to leave, but I kinda have to. They told me I have to.”

She is headed to the University of Southern Indiana to study nursing next Spring.

YouthBuild says its federal funding was cut this year, reducing its number of participants from 40 to 10. Flowers says they’ve relied on private donations and are optimistic that they will recieve funding next year.