Yash Roy, Contributing Photographer

Ten organizations received grants as part of New Haven’s Career Pathways Initiative, which looks to provide young people with educational and training opportunities.

According to New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, the grants will total about $1 million, and the programs will connect over 1,000 young residents with career opportunities. Recipient projects include a studio music scholarship and internship program, a construction and landscaping apprenticeship for formerly incarcerated people and a one-on-one career mentorship program for at-risk youth. 

Some of the organizations’ leaders joined Elicker at a press conference Monday morning announcing the recipients.

“Our youth already have an entrepreneur mindset — they are creative, they’re innovative, they’re solution-driven, they’re geniuses,” said Laquita Joyner-McGraw, founder of recipient organization Youth Entrepreneurs. “Our job as agents of change is to create a new process and system so that our kids will no longer be left behind or left out of conversations.”

The Youth Entrepreneurs’ program plans to launch an after-school career preparation program in partnership with Southern Connecticut State University, focusing on training in biosciences, coding and entrepreneurship. According to a press release from Elicker’s office, the grant selection process also gave special consideration to sectors including construction, health care, creative economy and manufacturing, among others. 

The city also looked to support programs that aim to close the racial wealth gap.

The Connecticut NAACP was another recipient organization that received funding, which they will use to meet regional goals of the greater country-wide One Million Jobs campaign. Corrie Betts, president of the Greater Hartford NAACP, spoke about how the program specifically targets those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system with career opportunities. In the past, city partners have included Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven.

“We are committed to advancing policies and practices that eliminate discrimination and accelerate the wellbeing of our people in education and economic security — for Black people and all persons of color,” Betts said at the press conference. “We look forward to partnering with the city of New Haven and making a significant impact on the lives of people we serve.”

Elicker emphasized the residents’ collective support for government initiatives that do more to empower the city’s young people. 

He also spoke about the importance of providing people with career training opportunities that span a broader variety of skill sets and education levels. 

“Today’s work is about ensuring that it’s not just a four-year college degree but a lot of different preparations and that training,” Elicker added. “It’s awe-inspiring — that’s the foundation of the word awesome — what we are going to be able to accomplish as a community.”

MATCH Inc., another recipient organization, will use the grant money to support its manufacturing training program. Areas of training include work in sheet metals, electricals and assembly.

Another vocational program that received funding was EMERGE Connecticut, which provides formerly incarcerated people with career training in construction-related trades. The grant will help add 10 new students to its construction and landscaping apprenticeship initiative, which also aims to give young people the space to talk through their experiences with the legal system.

“Our results-based programming has given people an 11 percent recidivism rate over the past ten years,” EMERGE President Erik Clemons said.  “We know that a job’s not enough to help someone who’s fallen into the criminal justice system. And what this does is it allows us the capacity to really tailor our program to the younger folks who work with us.”

The $1 million in program support ultimately comes from funds issued to the city by the White House’s American Rescue Plan, which funneled about $115 million into New Haven’s budget in total. 

These programs constitute the first round of grants to be allocated by the Initiative, with the second round set to be announced this summer.

Megan Vaz is the former city desk editor. She previously covered Yale-New Haven relations and Yale unions, additionally serving as an audience desk staffer.