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Published: Monday, 3/17/2014

EOPA to take over county’s youth jobs program


The Lucas County commissioners will announce today that the newly branded Economic Opportunity Planning Association will take over operations of the county’s summer jobs program for teenagers and young adults.

The program, which employs people ages to 16-24, had been run by the Lucas County Workforce Development Agency and Lucas County Department of Job and Family.

The county decided to turn the program over to EOPA, which is undergoing a rebranding to make up for the loss of the federally funded Head Start early education program, Commissioner Pete Gerken said.

“We are doing the program differently this time,” he said. “We thought this would be good opportunity with EOPA. This will help in the rebirth of the organization and take it back to its original focus of battling poverty. We think EOPA can bring other perspectives to the program that we were not able to do.”

The summer jobs program will place about 700 teens and young adults in the work force from early May through late September.

EOPA began in 1965 as a community action program to administer the federal assistance and improvement programs that grew out of President Johnson’s war on poverty.

From the late 1960s until several years ago, the nonprofit group operated the Head Start program.

Mr. Gerken said $800,000 has been secured for this year’s program, which includes one week of training and seven weeks of job placement. He said the county will seek $1.5 million in state funding to expand the program to put young people in jobs year round.

“This is the first step of a larger goal. Depending on the funds that may be available, we want to get it up and running now and get some tracks laid down in the community to hopefully having it running year round,” Mr. Gerken said.

In the summer program, teens and young adults will be paid $8 an hour and receive a week of training, then placed in jobs, working 25 hours a week.

To qualify, youths must be in a household that has income below a certain level. The income levels would change based on family size.

“We really want to reach out to the young adults in the Toledo community who are really low income and are looking at the long term for work and to getting their degrees, They may be trying to make it through school but just need a job and some help in figuring out a path,” said Stanley Lowe, who was hired as EOPA executive director last July.

Mr. Gerken said about 100 employers who have participated in past years will be used to match the young people with jobs in their organizations, and EOPA will be asking for new companies, firms, and groups to offer additional job opportunities.

Lucas County, The Andersons, and Toledo Area Metroparks have used the program to bring young people into their organizations.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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