City of Opelika receives grant for YIPP

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Contributed by the city of Opelika

The City of Opelika has received a $210,320 grant from the Governor’s Local Workforce Areas (GLWA) to fund implementation of the city’s Youth Incarceration Prevention Project (YIPP). This funding is made available to the state from the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) through the U.S. Department of Labor and is administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Workforce Development Division Governor’s Local Workforce Areas.

The goals of YIPP WIOA are to:

•  lower the recidivism rate among youth offender participants between the ages of 16-24 to 10% or less.

•  improve participants behavioral health.

•  assist youth who do not have a high school degree to earn a GED.

•  enroll those meeting entrance requirements in job skills training and be hired for a living wage by a local employer.

Lowering the recidivism rate to 10% or less over the next 12 months is significant as the national 1-year recidivism rate is 57%.

YIPP was created in 2019 by the Opelika Commission on Crime and Violence formed by Mayor Gary Fuller. Since then, all 87 YIPP program participants have stayed out of the justice system. All have been helped to deal with behavioral health issues such as substance abuse. All are enrolled in a GED program if they have not earned a high school diploma. Many will be enrolled in job skills training courses that will allow them to be hired for a good paying job in Lee County in the future. A total of 150 youth between the ages 16-24 will participate in the 2021 YIPP WIOA program.

Mayor Fuller stated, “I am grateful to Governor Ivey for providing the funding we received. This will allow the city to continue and expand YIPP.  I’d also like to thank Skip Long, who is managing the YIPP program. Through his leadership, we were able to acquire the grants needed to make this program possible.

“Without question we all have an obligation to give those youth less fortunate the opportunities to develop themselves and live up to their full potential. And in turn, this will make our community safer.”

Success of the YIPP effort is due in great measure to the strong support and involvement of many partner organizations such as Alabama Pardons and Paroles, Opelika Alternative School, Lee County Youth Court, the Lee County Youth Development Center, Southern Union State Community College and area churches.

A YIPP WIOA celebration and program launch is planned for the near future. At a meeting open to the public, the program action plan and timeline will be reviewed and discussed. The city will post information about the date and location when available.

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