U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces $1.2 Million in Federal Funding to Support Training, Employment Services to Young People; Increase Apprenticeships in High-Demand Careers in Beltrami and Cass Counties

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced a significant investment in the Bi-County Community Action Programs Inc. (BI-CAP) in Bemidji to empower young workers and strengthen the workforce in the region. Totaling $1,242,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the grant will support training and employment services critical for preparing young people to secure well-paying jobs in high-demand industries. This is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing effort to expand access to apprenticeship opportunities and prepare young workers for quality jobs and strengthen the nation’s workforce to meet industry demands. The grant was provided by the DOL’s YouthBuild Program and prioritized proposals that align training with local infrastructure projects funded by the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America agenda.

“Access to education and training is critical for young people to gain the skills needed to fill high-demand, good-paying jobs. By expanding access to pre-apprenticeship programs like YouthBuild, we are ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to their communities,” said Sen. Smith. “This federal funding will boost BI-CAP’s ability to support young people, workers and drive economic growth across Beltrami and Cass Counties.”

BI-CAP was established in 1966 as part of the national war on poverty and is one of approximately 1,000 community action programs nationwide that make up the service delivery arm of the federal Office of Community Services. They serve Beltrami and Cass counties with the following programs: early childhood education, housing, weatherization, energy assistance, and youth education/employment services.

The $1.2 million grant will support the education and training of young people, ages 16-24, who are neither enrolled in school nor in the labor market, for jobs in construction and other high-demand industries. The program has an emphasis on green building techniques, including understanding sustainable building materials, solar panel installation and weatherization processes. The YouthBuild Program helps deliver education and training to enable participants to build or rehabilitate affordable housing in their communities for people in need.

“The YouthBuild grants we’re awarding today will help young people acquire the skills and training needed to access the good-paying jobs created by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda,” explained Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training José Javier Rodríguez. “These investments make sure youth and young adults can share in the opportunities the administration is creating and make a better future for themselves no matter their background.” 

YouthBuild participants will divide their time between classroom instruction – where they earn their high school diploma or equivalency degree – and workplace training to prepare for postsecondary occupations. The grants will also enable young people to train for careers in healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and logistics, culinary arts, and hospitality. Click here to learn more about the YouthBuild Program.