The Lynchburg Boys and Girls Club sponsored a Workforce Development Speakers Courtesy of the club.

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The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg was approved for more than $75,000 in federal funding to offer workforce development programs and establish six-week summer training programs that provide hands-on vocational experiences to high school graduates. 

“Our program is designed in cohorts, moving through a three- to four-year cohort group, and this will really help us,” Mark Sheehan, the club’s executive director, said in a phone interview Friday. 

This workforce development initiative would develop two career pipelines for participants: either at the city of Lynchburg’s Public Works Department or in the private sector, helping more graduates gain employment and job skills. The program is expected to create 10 jobs and save 30 jobs.

The Boys and Girls Club hosted its most recent work development program – a job-readiness speaker series addressing entrepreneurship and business environments – during the summer. 

Sheehan said that his club serves mostly youth residing in the downtown area. “Lynchburg has one of the highest poverty rates in the state, and we want to increase graduation numbers and decrease poverty rates,” he said, adding that the organization serves  up to 130 members a year.

 “We’ll probably register 300 different young people that take advantage of different programs that we offer each year,” Sheehan said. “Our members need workers, and we want to make sure that our teens are ready to get out in the work world. We’re not trying to exclude colleges, but we’re helping them understand that there are different avenues to make a living wage.”

The grant was awarded by the Economic Development Administration, an agency in the U.S Department of Commerce that provides financial and technical assistance to economically distressed communities in order to generate new employment, help retain existing jobs and stimulate industrial and commercial growth through a variety of investment programs.

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, D-Va., helped secure the grant. “We’re glad the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg is receiving federal funding to provide workforce development and summer training programs to high school graduates in the region. This will help more Virginians get the skills they need to access high-quality, good-paying jobs,” both senators said in a joined statement Friday.  

Markus Schmidt

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at markus@cardinalnews.org.