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Stimulus money sends youth back to school

BRADENTON — A Manatee County educational organization has received more than $200,000 in stimulus funds to send out-of-school youth back to the classroom.

Educational Consultants Consortium learned Monday it won a grant under the Workforce Investment Act to help 18- to 21-year-olds obtain their General Education Development certificate or attend a career preparation program at Manatee Technical Institute.

The Educational Consultants Consortium is a grassroots organization that addresses teen pregnancy, drug abuse and crime.

The $225,000 grant being awarded to the organization will help send about 30 local youth back to school, said Barbara Harvey, executive director of Educational Consultants Consortium.

“In this economy, as well as with the crime activity we’ve had in our community, we certainly do welcome this program,” Harvey said. “It is going to be a major boost for our community.”

To qualify, participants must be aged 18-21, an out-of-school Manatee County resident and at or below the poverty level.

For youth who qualify for the program, the grant will pay for tuition and fees at MTI, provide transportation to the school and give students an incentive of $100 a month.

“We have been focusing on solving some of our economic problems by getting people careers and getting them jobs and this grant will be a part of that solution,” said Harvey, also a member of the Manatee County school board.

The Suncoast Workforce Board selected Educational Consultants Consortium as one of two recipients of the Workforce Investment Act grant. The Suncoast Workforce Board received $450,000 to issue to local organizations that could provide workforce services for out-of-school youth.

Sarasota County Technical Institute also was selected by the Suncoast Workforce Board to receive $225,000. The Suncoast Workforce Board received four applications for the Workforce Investment Act grant.

“We were looking for organizations that had solid experience in being able to assess, guide and counsel youth and provide alternative secondary school services,” said Suncoast Workforce spokeswoman Sally Hill.

Educational Consultants Consortium applied for the grant in November and signed a contract Monday for the grant that must be used between now and June 30, 2011.

For qualified individuals interested in participating in a career development program, call Educational Consultants Consortium at (941) 722-5696.