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GOALS to get county's share of youth program grant


Staff Writer

In mid-April Gov. Gray Davis announced $9.8 million in grant monies to further fund youth programs throughout California.

The funds are administered by the California Workforce Investment Board.

Imperial County's slice of the monetary pie is $633,689 and that money will go to a new program run by Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program.

Anna Vizcaino, project coordinator for the program, Project GOALS (Gaining Opportunities And Leadership Skills) says the program is designed to reach students in local community schools.

"These students are our most at-risk youth in our community and they have little or no access to vocational training and work experience programs. With this new program we'll be able to go to their community schools and offer these programs and training right there at the school site," Vizcaino said Tuesday.


Students in community schools have been expelled from their regular high schools or are on probation and are banned from entering any high school campus — the place where most youth outreach services are traditionally available.

As a collaborative effort between multiple Imperial Valley agencies, GOALS will work with 100 at-risk students in the alternative education setting. Input for the program came from the general community as well, Vizcaino said.

"There were several public forums and we had input from community school students, teen parents, gang members and at-risk youth," Vizcaino said.

All of these groups identified lack of adequate job readiness skills and training as being a large hurdle for their transition back into the general community.

Within the GOAL program each student will be assigned a case manager who will develop an individual plan for that student and will be responsible for matching the student with a work experience site and ensuring the student is attending classes as required. The case manager will be the conduit to other supportive services for the student.

"This targets the 14- to 18-year-old age group and we know if we get them at that age we've got a chance at making a difference in their lives," is Vizcaino's enthusiastic endorsement of the new program.

"We'll also be offering them the opportunity to attend an overnight camp at Julian as well; we do a lot of team-building work at these camps, which is a skill these kids desperately need."

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

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