U.S. Labor Department announces availability of $80M in grants to provide job, leadership skills among disadvantaged youth

U.S. Labor Department announces availability of $80M in grants to provide job, leadership skills among disadvantaged youth
YouthBuild programs help fill educational gaps to drive career success


Today, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of $80 million in grant funding to support and expand YouthBuild programs nationwide. For those programs that offer the “YouthBuild Construction Plus” model, participating youth can take advantage of expanded occupational skills training in additional in-demand occupations, such as health care, information technology or logistics.


Grants awarded through this funding opportunity will range from $700,000 to $1.1 million each to about 80 organizations to provide education and employment services to disadvantaged youth in their communities.


This year’s funding availability completes implementation of the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by incorporating the requirements of WIOA performance measures. Additional important changes to the program this year include:

–        The inclusion of priority consideration points for applicants in a federally-designated Promise Zone.

–        A clarification to the classification of “Category A” and “Category B” applicants to allow applicants that have previously received DOL YouthBuild funds, but not since 2009 or earlier, to be considered as new applicants.

–        The use of zip codes to identify target community service areas.

–        The requirement of key personnel, including a job developer.


YouthBuild is a non-residential, community-based alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and occupational skills training in construction and other in-demand occupations to at-risk youth and young adults from ages 16 to 24. Participants learn valuable skills as they build or rehabilitate housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities.


The goal of this grant also aligns closely with President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative which seeks to close opportunity gaps still faced by too many young people and often by boys and young men of color.

For additional information on grant eligibility and how to apply for funds, visithttp://www.grants.gov. If you have any questions or are interested in additional information, please email Eduardo Cisneros atCisneros.Eduardo@dol.gov.  




Contact: Donald Gatlin, dgatlin@rabengroup.com, 202-587-2871


Mayors Will Address Intractable Policy Challenges Facing Municipalities

WASHINGTON, DC— Over 150 participants including African American Mayors, Members of Congress, and Administration officials convened at the African American Mayors Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, to discuss and develop solutions to a variety of intractable policy challenges facing the nation’s cities. The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is the only organization exclusively representing the over 500 African-American mayors across the United States.

Kansas City Mayor, Sly James, was sworn-in as the new AAMA President on Friday. He said, “We must keep our citizens safe by taking guns out of the hands of those who commit crimes; support civil rights laws that treat all members of our communities with fairness and dignity; provide access to early childhood education that ensures all children are able to read at grade level; and embrace technology as a driving force in our communities.”

At this year’s conference, the Mayors committed to fierce advocacy for the passage of a federal criminal justice reform bill to create local programs to support citizens reentering their communities from the criminal justice system, and to dedicate resources to improving the relationship between citizens and law enforcement. The Mayors also met with officials at The White House to discuss the advancement of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative; the obstruction of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court; and to advocate for improvements in the federal process for ensuring that resources for disaster relief more quickly and effectively reach the communities they are intended to serve.

The conference theme, “The Urgency of Now”, is a reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s description of our nation’s tumultuous socio-political environment at the time that he delivered his “I have a Dream” speech in 1963, and a recognition that the need for change in African American communities remains urgent over 50 years later.

U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King; Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC); Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO); and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, were among a host of other high-level federal officials who participated in the conference this year. Conference sessions focused on addressing the overrepresentation of African Americans in the criminal justice system; the degradation of the educational system in African American communities; the alarming rates at which African Americans suffer community violence; and addressed ways in which cities can partner with the private sector to provide jobs and resources to their communities.

“We have great momentum and I will pursue many of the priorities we advanced during the past year,” said Mayor James. “Criminal justice reform will remain a primary legislative priority for AAMA, and I will be a tireless advocate for sentencing reform and other criminal justice measures that are supported by facts, fairness and reality.”

About AAMA

The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is the only organization exclusively representing over 500 African-American mayors across the United States. AAMA seeks to empower local leaders for the benefit of their citizens. The role of the AAMA includes taking positions on public policies that impact the vitality and sustainability of cities; providing mayors with leadership and management tools; and creating a forum for member mayors to share best practices related to municipal management.

2016 Annual Conference Agenda

Thursday, April 21
10:30am – 12:00pm Conference Registration
12:00pm – 1:30pm Welcome Lunch Sponsored by AT&T
1:30pm- 2:15pm Plenary Session 1: Education
2:15pm – 3:00pm Plenary Session 2: Job Creation and Public-Private Partnerships
3:00pm – 3:15pm Break
3:00pm – 3:15pm Nominating Committee Meeting
3:15pm – 4:00pm Workshop 1: City Resource Center
3:15pm – 4:00pm Workshop 2: Ballard Spahr LLP
4:00pm – 4:45pm Workshop 3: Senior Mayors Forum
4:00pm – 4:45pm Workshop 4: NLC Education
4:45pm – 5:30pm Workshop 5: Cities United
4:45pm – 5:30pm Workshop 6: Reentering Citizens
5:30pm – 6:00pm Annual Meeting
6:30pm- 7:30pm Women Mayor’s Committee Reception – Aetna
7:30pm – 9:00pm AAMA Keynote Dinner and Awards Reception by Waste Management


Friday, April 22
7:00am – 8:00am Breakfast for Conference Attendees
7:00am-8:00am Business Council Breakfast (Invited Guests Only)
8:15am – 11:45am White House Visit (Registered Mayors Only)
12:30pm-2:00pm Closing Luncheon and Gavel Ceremony by Casey Family Programs

African American Mayors Commend President Obama’s SCOTUS Nomination of Judge Garland

African American Mayors across the country commended President Obama for the prompt nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.

Mayor Steve Benjamin (Columbia, SC)

“Judge Merrick Garland is an eminently qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. As Chief Judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Garland has earned bipartisan recognition for his commitment to carefully interpreting the law.  The interests of justice cannot wait – the US Senate must do its Constitutional duty and promptly consider and vote upon Judge Garland’s nomination.”

Mayor Michael Hancock (Denver, CO)

“The people have had their say on who should nominate Justices, and twice they have chosen President Barack Obama. The President has fulfilled his constitutional duty by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, an accomplished jurist, to the Supreme Court, and I commend him on his pick. It’s time for the Senate to do its job, too. As elected officials, we take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and there is no excuse for abandoning that responsibility to play politics. Judge Garland deserves a hearing and a vote, and I call on the Senate to fulfill its duty.”

Mayor William Bell (Durham, NC)

“As Mayor of Durham NC, I first want to commend President Obama in exercising his Presidential responsibilities in nominating a very qualified and respected Judge to our US Supreme Court. Judge Merrick B. Garland’s service and experience as a jurist are impeccable and he deserves the opportunity and honor of being given a hearing by our U.S. Senate. As a minimum the citizens and voters of our country deserve the opportunity to hear firsthand from the nominee and his responses to the Senate committee and a vote on his nomination.

I would, in general urge all of our US Senators to be supportive of a hearing of this nominee and in particular our North Carolina Senate representative (Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis) to be supportive of a Senate committee hearing for the nominee and hopefully a vote in favor of his confirmation.”

Mayor Mario Avery (Fairburn, GA)
“The President’s nominee should be voted on by the U.S. Senate, especially with 61% of the U.S. citizens polled supporting his candidate.

Judge Garland has demonstrated his ability to assess environmental concerns by dissecting governmental enforcement policy that lacked adequate inspection. During the case “American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA” Judge Garland struck down the EPA’s case due to insufficient clarity of why the agency adopted a less stringent standard than what was recommended by studies. The case found that Garland had interpreted the Clean Air Act to maximize environmental protection. Fairburn has acquired three major corporations since 2012, totaling 3 million square feet of commercial space, that have constructed facilities subject to guidelines outlined in the Clean Air Act. I’m convinced that Judge Garland’s assessment of EPA policies will continue to benefit the City of Fairburn as it relates to clean air.

I reiterate that Judge Garland is not only well respected, by both republicans and democrats, but highly qualified to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Mayor Michael Wolfe, Sr. (Hempstead, TX)

“I am in full support of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for U.S. Supreme Court.”

Mayor Sly James (Kansas City, MO)

“Chief Judge Merrick Garland has extensive judicial experience, a knack for building consensus and a fearless record of taking on the hardest cases. When he was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court, both Republican and Democrat senators praised him and called eminently qualified. Failure to meet with him and consider his nomination to the Supreme Court is the basest form of political gamesmanship. A man of Judge Merrick’s caliber and qualifications should be treated fairly and given real consideration for this position.”

Mayor Adrian Mapp (Plainfield, NJ)

“I affirm my strong support of President Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland to serve as a representative of the US Supreme Court. It is not only the right of the President to nominate a replacement; it is his duty to do so, and Merrick Garland is unquestionably qualified to hold the position.

The Justice System should not be held hostage to bipartisan politics and the US Senate should not decide when it is convenient for them to fulfill their constitutional duties, and when it is not. To do anything other than consider and vote on the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court will be a huge failure to do their job and abandonment of their service to the American people.”

Mayor Lovely Warren (Rochester, NY)

“The United States Supreme Court has been the ultimate arbiter of landmark civil rights, human rights, fairness, voter access, and First Amendment Issues for our nation from its very founding,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren.  “At a time when so many Americans have become disenfranchised, we cannot allow our highest court to be mired in indecision by a long-term vacancy.  President Obama has fulfilled his Constitutional obligation to nominate a well-respected and qualified candidate in Merrick Garland.  It is now time for the Senate to fulfill their Constitutional obligation and give this important nomination their consideration and an up or down vote.”

Mayor Kevin Johnson (Sacramento, CA)

“Chief Judge Merrick Garland has a reputation of being one of the best appellate judges in the country and has a proven track record of building consensus. Garland has been a meticulous jurist and a straight shooter which has earned him strong bipartisan support throughout his career.

President Obama has done his part to fulfill his constitutional responsibility by nominating a highly qualified candidate to the Supreme Court. Now, I call upon the Senate to fulfill their duty and provide Chief Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing.”

Mayor George Evans (Selma, AL)

“President Obama stated in his 2008 campaign, ‘Washington is broken. Working together, we can end the partisan bickering’ The White House noted that the last time the Senate refused to vote on a president’s Supreme Court nominee was in 1875 — and that ‘one-third of all previous U.S. presidents have had a nominee confirmed to the Supreme Court in an election year.’

Let us not go backwards and repeat the mistakes of the past. Judge Merrick Garland is an extremely qualified nominee for the Supreme Court.  The president has fulfilled his constitutional duty of nominating Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.

I employ you as our Senate to fulfill your duty and expeditiously hold a fair confirmation hearing of President Obama’s nominee and to hold an up or down vote.”

Mayor Marilyn Strickland (Tacoma, WA)

“The fair hearing and confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice nominee is one of the most important duties of the United States Senate. The public weighed in on this decision in 2012 when they re-elected President Obama. The sitting justices have been appointed within 50-99 days and Judge Garland has a history of receiving bi-partisan support. It’s time to stop making excuses, set aside partisan gamesmanship and get on with honorably handling the people’s business.”

Mayor Vivian Covington (University Park, IL)

“I applaud our President for his nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.  This is the choice of our President and I respect and support him that this is the best person for the position.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser (Washington, DC)

“As chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Judge Garland has served ably here in the District of Columbia, and has earned respect that transcends party and politics. I stand with the President, and I urge the Congress to move Judge Garland forward through a fair and judicious process. Just like the residents of the District of Columbia, Judge Garland deserves a vote in the Congress.”


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Justice Keeper Grant

Good Afternoon AAMA Mayors and Supporters,

As you know, AAMA key priorities include supporting President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Initiative, and standing at the forefront of criminal justice reform efforts through our Justice Reform Task Force. In recognition of these priorities, AAMA is awarding two $2500 Justice Keeper Grants to tax-exempt entities (incl. municipalities and not-for-profit organizations) performing exceptional work on MBK and criminal justice reform. To apply for a Justice Keepers Grant, please complete and return the attached application form by no later than March 22, 2016.

As a reminder, AAMA is also offering 10 $500 Membership Scholarships for small city mayors (under 5,000 residents) to become members of AAMA at no cost for one year. We encourage you to forward the enclosed application to eligible small city mayors that have demonstrated strong leadership within your state. Completed Membership Scholarship applications must be received by no later than March 22, 2016.

Statement on Nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to US Supreme Court

Washington, D.C. (March 16, 2016) – The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) today commended President Obama for the prompt nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the United States Supreme Court.  AAMA President Mayor Steve Benjamin (Columbia, SC) issued the following statement:

“Judge Merrick Garland is an eminently qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. As Chief Judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Garland has earned bipartisan recognition for his commitment to carefully interpreting the law.  The interests of justice cannot wait – the US Senate must do its Constitutional duty and promptly consider and vote upon Judge Garland’s nomination.”

Media Contact: Everton Morris, AAMA Deputy Executive Director, Everton@ourmayors.org

Statement on Supreme Court Vacancy


African American Mayors Association

Statement on Supreme Court Vacancy


Washington, D.C. (February 29, 2016) – The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is deeply concerned by recent statements from multiple US Senators suggesting the Senate will refuse to vote upon any potential nominee to the US Supreme Court. AAMA President Mayor Steve Benjamin (Columbia, SC) issued the following statement:

“Under our Constitution, the President has a responsibility to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and the Senate has an obligation to consider and vote upon the nominee. I am confident President Obama will name an eminently qualified Justice to faithfully interpret the law. During a time when many Americans are deeply cynical of Washington, Senators must show up and do their job by giving a Supreme Court nominee a prompt confirmation vote.”


Standing On His Shoulders: The Legacy Of Mayor Carl B. Stokes

(To read this post on Medium.com Click Here)

The election of President Barack Obama, not even a decade ago, has already been marked down in American history as a major step in the long march for civil rights. Of course, it is clear from the continuing work of advocates and activists today that it was not the last such step. However this month, Black History Month, beckons us to look back and remember all the steps that came before. Forty-Eight years ago, back when the man who would become the first African American President of the United States was only six years old, another man began paving that path of opportunity with strikingly similar tenacity.

In 1967, a different state congressman from a Midwestern state became the first African American to serve in a different prestigious office. Carl Burton Stokes made history when he was elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio and became the first African American mayor of a major US city. Forty years separate his election from the election of President Obama. Yet their stories are parallel and related as they compose a chapter of the living history of African American perseverance in America.

Like the President who followed in his footsteps, Stokes was also raised by a single mother. He grew up first in a poor Cleveland neighborhood, and then in the city’s first housing project. Stokes was constantly reminded by his mother that education was the key to a better life. His early life was characterized by educational excellence and service to his nation. After serving in World War II, Stokes completed his legal studies and was admitted to the Ohio Bar. He served as an assisting prosecuting attorney for the county, before becoming the first African American to be elected to the Ohio House of Representatives.

As a young attorney and state congressmen, Stokes built a reputation as a civil rights advocate and political moderate, appealing to African American and white voters alike. After he was defeated following his third term in office, he responded to the setback by striving to make an even greater impact on his community. He sought a position which an African American man had never held before — mayor of Cleveland, a major American city. It was an uphill battle. Not only was two-thirds of the Cleveland’s population white, but Stokes’ opponent was the grandson of former President William Howard Taft. When he ran for mayor, the African American community in Cleveland was struggling and tensions between police and citizens were escalating to riots. In the end, he won his historic victory with a narrow 50.5 percent of the vote.

As mayor, Stokes was a fierce advocate for minorities in Cleveland and opened doors for African Americans and women to work at city hall. He united black and white business owners to fund Cleveland: Now!, a program to rejuvenate the city’s poorest neighborhoods. As race riots and financial troubles plagued the city, Stokes was a force of stability and reason earning him a second term. Following his tenure as mayor, he went on to break barriers in his storied career as a news anchor, a municipal judge, and a U.S. ambassador.

The impact of Mayor Carl B. Stokes’s accomplishments transcends his time in office. He was an early beacon of hope for the change we see continued today. Forty-eight years after Stokes’s election, not only is the president of the United States an African American, so are an estimated 471 other mayors in office today. Of course, leaders like President Barack Obama and former Mayor Carl B. Stokes do not just pave the way for African Americans to hold the same positions. They show our nation the importance of diversity and the benefit of empowering Americans of all backgrounds. They are proof of the value of perseverance. They are a testament to the American Dream and the spirit of “liberty and justice for all.”