Residents in six New Haven neighborhoods will soon have greater access to post-secondary education and job training.

Thanks to a $1 million award from Empower New Haven, Gateway Community College plans to initiate a program to benefit residents of the Dixwell, Dwight, Fair Haven, Hill, Newhallville and Westville neighborhoods, which lie in the city’s federal Empowerment Zone.

Empower New Haven is a nonprofit organization responsible for the distribution of a 10-year, $40 million federal grant. In January 1999, New Haven was one of 15 urban regions nationwide to win the Empowerment Zone designation from the federal government. The nationwide Empowerment Zone program aims to revitalize distressed neighborhoods.

The New Haven organization has been working to develop and implement a strategic plan focused on economic development and job creation, strengthening neighborhoods, and improving education and youth services.

“This award from Empower New Haven helps Gateway realize its mission to encourage student access and to develop partnerships with community organizations,” said Evelyn Cernadas, director of public information and marketing at Gateway Community College.

“It also allows the college to provide services that have been limited due to the severe budget cuts that the Connecticut community colleges have all experienced over the last two years,” Cernadas said.

Gateway plans to establish the Career Ladders Institute, a program that will provide services to 60 Empower Zone residents who have high school diplomas or GEDs.

Cernadas said the Career Ladders Institute’s services will include tutoring and counseling as well as internship opportunities through partnerships with local businesses and industry.

Joshua Civin, chairman of Empower New Haven’s RFP/Vendor Selection Committee, said the award is performance-based, with $500,000 for use during the first year and the remaining half to be distributed upon evaluation by Empower New Haven.

The Career Ladders Institute will consist of a steering committee that will include two members of Empower New Haven’s board of directors, one member of the Workforce Development Committee, one Empower New Haven Council representative from each of the six Empowerment Zone neighborhoods, one representative from the New Haven Board of Education, and two representatives from Gateway Community College.

In a press statement, Gateway Community College President Dorsey Kendrick said, “The approval of funding for this program is a prime example of the good things that can occur when community leaders, educators, and business partners work together to benefit our most valuable human capital — the students.”

“The college plans to demonstrate that it can reach out into the community and work to make tomorrow a better place for all New Haven residents,” Kendrick said.