Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board

Organization
Organization Name: 
Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board
Organization Director: 
David Hunn
Program Name: 
YouthSource Project
Street Address: 
8300 Boone Boulevard, Suite 450
City: 
Vienna
State: 
VA
Contact
Contact Person: 
David Hunn
Contact Title: 
Executive Director
Contact E-mail: 
Program
Organization Profile: 
The Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board (NVWIB) is the local Workforce Investment Board for the counties of Fairfax, Loudon, Prince William, and the cities of Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Its mission is to "advance an integrated highly responsive workforce investment system that gives businesses and job seekers the tools they need to stay competitive in today's global marketplace." The NVWIB is the policy and oversight body for seven area SkillSource One-Stop Centers through which a wide range of employer and job seeker services are provided. A nonprofit entity of the board called SkillSource Group, Inc. runs the One-Stop Centers. Youth services are provided through the One-Stop centers under contract with Fairfax County Department of Family Services.
Program Summary: 
The YouthSource project was designed to provide the national workforce investment system with a comprehensive model approach to reducing barriers and providing solutions for increased participation and positive outcomes for youth with disabilities participating in Workforce Investment Act supported programs. During the two-year project life, YouthSource established relationships and practices among stakeholders and strengthened capacity within the workforce system to serve youth with disabilities.

The project took a comprehensive approach to assisting youth, ages 14 to 21, with developing leadership skills, accessing employment opportunities and experience, and gaining knowledge about self-employment. In addition to the demonstration of effective practices, the project included significant outreach to youth with disabilities to increase participation (with an emphasis on identifying and recruiting out-of-school youth with disabilities, as well as youth with non-visible or hidden disabilities), stakeholder training and information dissemination. Efforts were focused on increasing youth's knowledge about the workforce investment system and joint planning around service delivery.

The YouthSource staff were required to obtain and maintain workforce competency certification that covers 13 "Areas of Competency." In Northern Virginia, One-Stop workforce development centers require all co-located partner staff to be certified. The 13 core competencies apply to all workforce development professionals that serve youth and adult customers. The competencies were developed by the NVWIB Human Resources Committee, adapted from the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals' Certified Workforce Development Professional Program. Examples of the areas include the history and structure of the workforce development system, labor market information, customer service, job search and keeping skills, and the career development process. YouthSource staff earned that certification by achieving competency in 13 qualifying areas. Portfolios were used to assess and demonstrate competency.

Program Structure/Design: 
Services to youth were delivered via current SkillSource One-Stop Centers, NVWIB affiliate sites, Youth Services Teen Centers, high schools, the Job Hut, and the NVWIB Business Services Center. Staff gathered basic needs information on forms that make up the intake packet used to gather basic demographic information. In addition, a Benefit Specialist was available in the One-Stop to meet individually with persons.

YouthSource supported the creation of a new youth-focused One-Stop center called the Job Hut. YouthSource contributed to achieving the Job Hut mission to engage youth with and without disabilities in career exploration, employment options, leadership development, and skills training. The Job Hut assists youth ages 14-21 with education and employment opportunities. With a Youth Advisory Board composed of high school students from the Prince William area, the Job Hut was designed to be a consumer friendly site for youth to stop by and visit as often as they like. No membership fees for services, or cumbersome application processes are required. The Job Hut is located a retail space in the Manassas Mall. Its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Job Hut celebrated its first year anniversary in mid October, 2005. In peak months of usage, the Job Hut averaged over 1,200 youth visits during April and May of 2004. In March 2004, the National Association of Workforce Board honored the Youth Council of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board for the creation of The Job Hut, recognizing it as a replicable model for other regions and states.

A Youth Leadership Academy was developed to enhance leadership skills of youth and was conduced in each of the two project years. Youth participating in the second year of the academy served as peer mentors. The project developed and implemented a program to facilitate the acquisition of driver's licenses among project participants, featuring a supported learning approach.

States of Operation: 
VA
ODEP Funded: 
Yes
Profile Year: 
2007
Innovative Practices
Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: 
Students in five high schools were provided with exploration and training in the development of small businesses. The ARC of Northern Virginia coordinated this activity in the high schools working with the work awareness-training instructors to develop student run businesses. Participants visited the One-Stop Centers and the local Small Business Development Corporation. At one high school, students began by selling roses for Valentines Day and than used those profits to launch other school-related business activities, including making and selling decorations for the prom. At another school, students launched a business that sold custom tee shirts. The projects have continued in the five schools.
Youth Development and Leadership: 
Each year a Youth Leadership Academy was held to provide an avenue for youth peer mentoring and growth and leadership activities and education. Youth were educated on benefits options, the value of self-advocacy, wage and self employment options. A wide range of community leaders and persons providing key information were in attendance. The Youth planned and implemented the activity.

The Job Hut, a youth-oriented One-Stop Center, was designed by a youth advisory board to the Workforce Board. A six-member panel comprised of area teens worked with the youth council over a period of nine months. They worked on many aspects of the project, including designing the Job Hut logo, deciding what books would be housed in the library and hiring the two full-time staff.

YouthSource participants took part in a Mystery Shopper program run in collaboration with the companion adult grant. Youth posed as One-Stop customers to evaluate physical and programmatic accessibility at multiple One-Stop locations, including the Job Hut in Prince William County, Virginia.

Connecting Activities: 
YouthSource staff developed training to tutor students on driver's education. This training was developed in response to the needs of youth with disabilities who could not otherwise access the supported learning approaches that were necessary to success in obtaining driving permits. The subsequent demand for this training led to the delivery of weekly workshops at various schools in Prince William and Fairfax County schools on driver's education. Class size averaged 10 to 25 youth, and was fully inclusive of youth with and without disabilities.

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