Jonathan Jiminez, a young man who grew up in Yonkers, told the audience that his life had been completely turned around by the Delaware Valley Job Corps (DVJC). Where he was once a high school drop-out without seeing much of a future ahead, he now has a job with a local contractor, is studying design and has his sights set on becoming an architect.
It is just the sort of story that the national Job Corps was created to foster. Founded in the 1960s, the corps is a national program that gives young people between the ages of 16 and 24 a free education and career preparation counseling.
The DVJC, which opened in 1979, serves 550 economically disadvantaged young people every year.
There are 124 Job Corps centers nationwide, operating on a budget in 2010 of $1.017 billion. And there is a move by some lawmakers in Congress to push spending on this and other programs back to 2008 levels, a cut of $81 million. Further, some conservative think tanks and congressional Republicans have proposed that the program be eliminated altogether.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who traveled to the DVJC on February 7, said he is working to prevent that from happening. Hinchey said investing in the type of education provided by the program is actually a savings for society in the long run.
He said, “For every one of the 1.2 million teenage dropouts each year, the long-term cost to the American taxpayer is $469,000, in terms of decreased earnings, lost tax revenues, public healthcare expenses, crime-related costs and increased welfare benefits. Job Corps only costs $26,000 per student. So, we can invest in job skills training now or pay 20 times that amount later. Cutting Job Corps makes no fiscal sense whatsoever.”
DVJC trains students in such fields as advanced manufacturing, business technologies, carpentry, culinary arts, facilities maintenance, material handling, medical office support, security, automotive repair, construction and electrician support.
Eighty percent of the students at the DVJC come from the five boroughs of New York City and live on campus, which is located on the former site of St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary on Route 97 in Callicoon.