Published by the Fremont Tribune

Goodwill Industries Inc. in Omaha (Goodwill Omaha) announced it was recently awarded a $15,000 one-year grant from United Way of the Midlands. Goodwill Omaha will invest in virtual learning technology and tools for its YouthBuild program, which provides educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16 to 24.

The YouthBuild program gives disadvantaged youth who have struggled with school a second chance by providing education, training and career paths in the construction trades. Many of Goodwill Omaha’s YouthBuild students are underemployed or don’t have high school diplomas. As program participants, the students also earn their GEDs and receive leadership training and ongoing support from Goodwill’s team.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for Goodwill Omaha’s YouthBuild students, most notably when the organization temporarily closed for eight weeks between March 23 and May 18 this year. During this shutdown, YouthBuild trainers and case managers were challenged with keeping their students engaged and on track with their GED studies and testing at a time when the potential for recidivism was significantly increased.

With the help of this grant, the YouthBuild program is able to offer updated and extended virtual learning opportunities to students in situations when classroom learning isn’t possible. With the new ability to keep students engaged and interested in the program whether they’re in the classroom or interacting with the trainer or class virtually, Goodwill Omaha can increase GED and program completion rates of YouthBuild participants.

For more information about Goodwill’s programs and its 18 locations in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Gretna and Council Bluffs, visit GoodwillOmaha.org.