Lettiere awards $500k in
Urban Gateway Enhancement Grants
Urban Youth Corps to gain valuable on-the-job training
(Trenton) - State Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere today announced $500,000 in funding for participants of the NJDOT Urban Gateway Enhancement program. The annual program, a federal, state and community partnership, funds organizations and local governments to employ community project teams known as Urban Youth Corps (UYC).
Joined by Rep. Rush Holt (D), State Senator Shirley Turner and local officials, and Urban Youth Corps members, Lettiere presented representatives of Mercer Street Friends and the Cities of Trenton and East Orange each with a $25,000 check. In all, 20 groups were awarded grants, which allow Urban Youth Corps members to receive on-the-job training while working on various community enhancement projects.
“I salute the young men and women of the Urban Youth Corps as they continue to make a difference in their communities,” said Lettiere. “In addition to valuable work experience gained and skills learned, they can take great pride in knowing that their hard work has had an impact on their fellow citizens.”
Each year, the NJDOT receives $500,000 in Federal Highway Administration funding for its Urban Gateway Enhancement Program.
“I applaud the state of New Jersey for supporting a program that not only helps to physically revitalize our capitol city, but provides job opportunities and training for the city’s disadvantaged youth,” said Congressman Holt. “At a time when our young people are having difficulty finding summer jobs due to the sluggish economy, the Urban Gateway Enhancement Program is investing in our youth so they do not have to give up hope for a bright economic future.”
The Department solicits community based or other local organizations with youth programs to participate. Program applicants, referred to as Urban Youth Corps identify a minimum of three gateway project locations within a city’s boundaries that are owned by the State of New Jersey or the local government, and located on or near a State roadway.
"This is a program that benefits our area youth and urban communities alike,” said Senator Turner, “Not only is this an opportunity to beautify our urban communities, it is also an opportunity to train disadvantaged youth to become productive citizens and active members of our area's work force."
Many of the project locations selected have experienced excessive litter, graffiti, high grass, trees or shrubs. Once approved for a single location, the Urban Youth Corps participants provide various enhancements with emphasis placed on beautification and improvement. The teams, consisting of six to eight individuals and a supervisor, are also responsible for developing a plan for maintaining the final project.
"We are delighted today to add to our ongoing efforts to beautify the gateways coming into Trenton," said Mayor Douglas H. Palmer. "The Perry Street exit ramp off of Route 1 and the Trenton Train Station are two of the most important entry points into the city - and DOT is both planting the seeds of landscaping improvements and expanding summer youth employment opportunities. That's a double victory."
In addition to Mercer Street Friends and the Cities of Trenton and East Orange, other grant recipients include the Asbury Park Youth Corps, ASPIRA, Inc. of New Jersey, Children's Home, Downtown Merchants Corporation, the City Of Elizabeth, East Orange YMCA, the Township of Hillside, International Youth Organization, Jersey City, La Casa de Don Pedro, Neptune Township, NJ Youth Corps of Phillipsburg, North Bergen Township via the Funding Group, Perth Amboy Development Corporation Business Improvement District, the City of Plainfield, Tri-County Community Action Agency, Work Group-Camden NJ Youth Corps.
“It’s wonderful that this partnership with NJDOT so nicely supports our mission while also fulfilling it’s own,” said Stephen Kitts, Mercer Street Friends Executive Director. “This program provides an opportunity for city youth to be empowered vocationally. There are thankful for being able to improve the City of Trenton.”