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Urban League gets $2.5M to fund re-entry programs

William Clark, president and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester
Urban League of Rochester
William Clark, president and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester

The Urban League of Rochester is gearing up to help more than 300 people by providing job training, academic assistance and other supportive services.

The agency received $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund two re-entry programs for people who were previously incarcerated or otherwise involved in the justice system.

One, called Project Steps to Success, will serve 125 young adults, ages 18 to 24.

The other, called Project BEAM, will assist 188 people over the age of 25.

“Many have just been released from institutions and they’re looking to get their lives on track,” said William Clark, president and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester.

Clark said the programs can be a big help.

“You know, the judges, probation, parole … they’re always looking for opportunities for young folks so that they can really get their lives together and get on track,” he said.

He said the programs will provide intensive counseling and technical training that can lead to industry-recognized credentials.

“That makes them employable to a lot of employers that are looking for people certified in different areas,” Clark said.

He said the job training focuses on the construction industry, advanced manufacturing, health care and food service because the Urban League and the Labor Department see growth opportunities in those areas.

Clark said it’s become clear that there is a need for such programs.

“We see so many people – I mean, the demand is great. And while we’re able to provide services to some people, now we’re able to really increase that pool and not look for alternative services for so many people because there’s a great demand for it.”

Clark said the programs aim to reduce recidivism and serve as the start to new lives for the participants.

“We feel it’s going to be a win for the greater Rochester community because it’s going to be a positive impact on the lives of these over 300 individuals that we’re going to be providing services for.”

Denise Young is executive editor of WXXI News.