The Newberg Graphic newspaper (Newberg Graphic’s Website) wrote an exciting article on the benefits of the Yoop! program. They see the benefits of our program, and are telling all of Yamhill County about the wonders of the program.
“Grant will give youth a leg up to get a job”
by Amanda Newman
It’s no secret that unemployment is rampant throughout the nation, with millions out of work and little improvement in sight. For youth trying to find a job, the outlook is even bleaker. And when those same youth have other issues hindering their employment — poverty, lack of education or work skills, homelessness or a criminal record, for example — employment may seem an impossible dream.
A new Chehalem Youth and Family Services (CYFS) program aims to turn those impossibilities into realities.
CYFS is preparing to launch the Yamhill Youth Opportunity Program — Yoop! — after receiving a $300,000 federal grant this spring. The program would serve Yamhill County, with offices in Newberg and McMinnville, and hopes to help 190 qualifying 16- to 21-year-olds in its first year.
Is there a need for a program like Yoop! in Yamhill County? Most definitely, said CYFS executive director Deborah Cathers-Seymour.
“Unemployment (in Yamhill County) is already at about 10 percent,” she said. “The dropout rate in Oregon is a matter of great concern and even though Yamhill County does better than most, it’s also (something) our school district is, I know, very concerned about.”
Cathers-Seymour pointed to some sobering statistics to make her point. In 2000, 9.2 percent of Yamhill County residents were living in poverty; by 2008, that number had risen to 12.5 percent. Teen pregnancy rates were in a steady decline until 2004, when they began increasing again — the county’s rate is now above the state average.
About 27 percent of Newberg students and 38 percent of McMinnville students qualify for free or reduced school lunches, one indicator of poverty. While the Newberg High School dropout rate is a relatively low 2.9 percent, the county average is 4 percent — also higher than the state average.
Nationally, the unemployment rate for ages 16-24 is a whopping 19 percent.
Yoop! will help youth overcome the barriers inhibiting their employment and teach them “those little things that’ll give them an edge in a competitive work environment,” Cathers-Seymour said.
The program will cover a range of services. It will help youth complete school or earn a GED, improve their résumé, gain work skills and experience, learn work ethics and connect with adult mentors. It will also help them improve their finances, identify career interests, free themselves from drug or alcohol dependency, and connect with potential employers.
To qualify for the program, youth must have at least one qualifying barrier to employment, meet Workforce Development Act eligibility guidelines, and fall below the income standard (5 percent can exceed it).
CYFS is looking for businesses to partner with to offer employee training and adults to volunteer as mentors. They will hire four people for the program; one position has already been filled. The program begins in September, but CYFS is already communicating with youth interested in participating. For more information on participating, call Alan Neumann at CYFS, 503-538-4874. Youth will apply and be tested and interviewed to identify employment barriers and goals. They will then work with program employees to create a personalized path to success.
The program could include attending workshops, finding scholarships, doing high school credit recovery, getting into an apartment or getting a bicycle for transportation, to name a few examples.
Although the grant is for one year, it is renewable for two more. The funds are channeled through Job Growers. CYFS’s Ernest Stephens was instrumental in developing the Yoop! program, Cathers-Seymour said.
For more information, visit www.myyoop.org.