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CAMBRIDGE – Just-A-Start, the Cambridge-based economic development agency focused on creating opportunity, strengthening community, and improving lives, has been awarded a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The grant, spread over three years, will be used to support academic and occupational skills training for at-risk youth.

“This provides a foundation of support for the JAS YouthBuild program serving some of the neediest and most underserved youth in Cambridge, Chelsea, and surrounding communities,” said Deborah Ruhe, executive director of Just-A-Start. “This type of funding shows that others recognize the work we are doing and that people believe in our mission and our track record of success.”

The YouthBuild program aligns with President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and job-driven training agenda by promoting a “stepping stone” approach that provides a seamless progression from education to work-based training and results in good paying jobs for young adults. The community-based nature of these grants ensures that services are provided where they are needed most and are intended to reach the hardest to serve youth.

JAS YouthBuild is a non-residential, community-based alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and occupational skills training to youth ages 16 to 24 who have been in the juvenile justice system, are aging out of foster care, have dropped out of high school, or are otherwise at-risk of failing to reach key educational and career milestones.

“YouthBuild offers thousands of young people the tools, resources and opportunities they need to punch their ticket to the middle class,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “These federal grants are part of our broader effort to invest in the future of our nation’s youth and help them climb the ladder of opportunity.”

A mission-driven organization that makes a difference every day in the lives of the people we serve, Just-A-Start is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) community development corporation. JAS focuses on three major program areas: the development and operation of affordable housing; stabilization of existing housing; and education, training and job placements. Each year hundreds of individuals and families are served by Just-A-Start and given the tools and resources to grow.