Lane County internship program for underserved youth wins state grant
A Lane County non-profit that provides paid career training for underserved youth has won a state grant worth over $1 million.
‘Excelerators’ are training and internship programs for youth aged 15 to 24, with cohorts for healthcare, tech and manufacturing. The Eugene-based Connected Lane County launched the services earlier this year.
Executive Director Heidi Larwick said the programs are intended to help youth who face barriers to employment, such as if they’ve dropped out of school.
Most of the applicants come from the non-profit’s other programs or from Looking Glass, a local social service and shelter provider, according to Larwick.
“We are aiming to re-engage them to complete their education and get on an employment path,” she said.
Each cohort includes 15 people, with 250 hours of training and work experience. Larwick said she hopes participants obtain the skills to get hired.
“Our ideal outcome for someone who participates in the Excelerator is full-time employment in a high wage, high demand career that can support them and their family for the long term,” she said.
On Oct. 18, Connected Lane County announced that the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission had awarded them with a $1.4 million grant to support underserved youth.
Nearly half of that funding will go towards paying members of the Excelerator cohorts. Larwick said many people in the program need a source of income to support themselves and their families.
“If they have to choose between training and getting paid, they're gonna choose the paid option,” she said. “But if we provide payment, then they can come and learn.”
Additionally, the non-profit has allotted over $65,000 from the grant for assisting the housing, transportation, food and clothing needs of participants in the program.
Larwick said this funding will last for three years, and she expects to accept around 45 people into the program annually. She said there are few other training opportunities for this age group in Lane County, but there is a need.
“We're looking forward to hearing from the community about other opportunities, and how we might expand this," said Larwick.