There are 30,000+ youth annually, nationwide, who age out of foster care. A great percentage of this pool has limited interest in attending college, 33% end up homeless, addicted to drugs, incarcerated or pregnant. Thousands of these youth from 18 – 24 years old can be trained in trades and technology fields. The cost to the State of Nebraska alone approximates $2.7 million, annually.
Working with companies in Blair, NE, AS has identified over 100 jobs from transportation to construction to bio-tech to the opening of the new Dollar General Distribution Center that will need 400 employees. AS is working to develop some of the most innovative training programs that incorporate on the job training combined with career pathing, mentoring, life training and wrap around services to ensure the best chance of success for these youth.
Logistically, Blair offers a compact community and ease of access to a group of companies in from bio-tech international companies to communications and transportation. There is a high demand for employees and willingness to take unskilled and unqualified youth and willing to work on ways to best keep the youth employed. AS offers scalability through a former private university campus, Dana College, with relatively new buildings that provide a setting for training, housing, entertainment and physical outlets such as soccer, basketball, and baseball, a large public park for hiking and picnicking, office space for employers of and service providers to at risk youth. There is a 300 seat theater, a 35,000 book library, state of the art communications and 150 acres to grow. Workforce housing and market-rate apartments are being built on land that formerly belonged to the university and in December 2020 the first apartments to house 24 youth will open.
With self-sustaining annual revenues, 80 youth in the program, these youth will provide bench strength in attracting new businesses through a large, well trained, blue collar workforce. AS will help turn a group of youth, which costs the State money, into tax payers and be a model to the rest of the country.