UNCP's Regional Center Wins YouthStart Funding


UNC Pembroke's Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development received one of the largest grant in its history after winning approval to operate Robeson County's $750,915 In-school Youth Workforce Investment Act program.

The Regional Center will begin operating the federally funded "YouthStart" program on July 15 and manage it for one year.

The center, which is set to break ground on its 12,000-square-foot headquarters at COMtech. technology part in November, will add six new staffers at five county sites to manage the program.

"This certainly comes as good news for our Regional Center," said Chancellor Meadors. "Gaining this program is a good fit for our community development mission and is a real bonus for the university's outreach goal to lift up our county and region."

The Regional Center was awarded funding by the Lumber River Workforce Development Board to operate YouthStart for one year with the option to renew two additional years. It is funded through the Federal Workforce Investment Act Program, which the Lumber River Council of Governments administers.

YouthStart is a year-round program to serve 250 in-school youth, ages 14-18 from all over Robeson County. The Regional Center ran an academic enrichment component program this June.

YouthStart is a comprehensive program and will provide activities that include a summer employment program, tutoring, study skills, pre-employment work maturity skills training; paid and unpaid work experiences, internships, job shadowing; leadership development; adult mentoring services; comprehensive guidance and counseling; supportive services and follow-up services. UNCP's Office of Sponsored Research will collaborate with the center to offer the summer component.

Sylvia Pate, director of the Regional Center, will direct YouthStart.

"We will begin steps for implementation immediately in order to have the project operational by mid July," Ms. Pate said. "This is an important step for us as we move out into the surrounding community."

"This is an excellent community development program because it works with young people," she said. "It is also an economic development program because it improves the workforce of our region."

This spring the Regional Center won a four-year, $1.6 million grant to fight infant mortality in a four-county region. That program is called HealthStart.

This spring, the Regional Center also collaborated to win a grant to build UNCP's Outdoor Education Center that features a ropes course and 50-foot climbing wall. The Center is also working on obtaining grants to fund a bio-processing or fermentation laboratory for the university, also planned for the COMtech site.

For more information, contact the Regional Center at 910.522.8410 or rc@uncp.edu.