More than 0,000 awarded to prepare disconnected youth for employment in creative careers

SAN DIEGO, May 3, 2016 — The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation’s urban art program Writerz Blok was awarded a $211,991 Challenge Grant from the City of San Diego’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The grant will fund Writerz Blok’s youth workforce training program. This intensive, employer-informed, “earn and learn” program prepares disconnected young adults for employment through education, applied design-sector skills training, and work experience. Program participants are ages 14 to 24, from low- to moderate-income households, and are unemployed and/or not pursing a degree, at risk of not achieving their high school/college educational goals, or transitioning out of the justice system.

The Challenge Grant is a new category designed to target resources to serve highly vulnerable populations using funds are made available through anticipated one-time CDBG program income repayments. This distinct funding opportunity (separate from the annual CDBG entitlement budget) is made available to nonprofit providers creating youth workforce training opportunities and/or direct services to veterans.

Writerz Blok’s workforce training program consists of a two-week unpaid orientation that provides soft skills to increase participants’ likelihood of completing the program, followed by a 10-week paid training where participants earn minimum wage while receiving group creative and technical design instruction and individual project-based skills application assistance and mentorship. Participants who complete the 200-hour program are offered a four-week, 120-hour subsidized employment placement with one of the Jacobs Center’s or Writerz Blok’s industry partners.

Writerz Blok offers a host of career pathways for young adults via hands-on programs that fuse arts and technology. The program currently offers training in graphic design, screen-printing, and graffiti art history and is seeking to expand its facility this year in order to grow its programs and serve more youth. Writerz Blok launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign at the end of March with a goal of raising $25,000 to upgrade and expand its facility to include more classroom space, rehabilitate its yard and install more permanent walls for graffiti art and murals, and construct a pop-up retail shop that will sell special edition apparel and skateboards featuring designs from renowned artists to support its programs. Donations can be made at www.supportwriterzblok.org.

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About the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation
Founded in 1995, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is focused on building communities and lifting lives. As a creative catalyst and incubator, the Jacobs Center works with the community to revitalize Southeastern San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods. This means transforming nearly 60 acres into sustainable developments that provide residents with greater access to resources and amenities that improve their quality of life. Additionally, the Jacobs Center works with community organizations to increase residents’ economic opportunities, leadership skills, and educational success. Learn more at www.jacobscenter.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.