States That Spent Most Per-Pupil Get Labor Dept. Grants; States That Spent Least Get None

Penny Starr | September 3, 2012 | 11:53am EDT
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The District of Columbia’s Sasha Bruce Youthwork helps improve the lives of vulnerable youth. It has ust been awarded a $1,099,932 YouthBuild grant by the U.S. Labor Department. (Photo from the Sasha Bruce website)

( - The U.S. Labor Department announced last week that it will distribute $75.7 million in taxpayer-funded YouthBuild grants to provide instruction and occupational training for high school dropouts, ages 16 to 24.

With some 5,000 individuals expected to benefit, the grants average $15,140 for each “out of school” individual. Meanwhile, the nation's elementary-secondary public school systems spent an average $10,615 per pupil in fiscal year 2010, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to a  June 2012 Census Bureau’s report, the District of Columbia spent the most on education in 2010 – $18,667 per student. The Labor Department just awarded a $1,099,932 YouthBuild grant to the city’s Sasha Bruce Youthwork Inc., which helps young people “transform their lives.”

New York spent the second highest amount on each pupil – $18,618. Six recipients in that state will receive a combined total of $5,209,046 from taxpayers through the YouthBuild grants.

New Jersey ranks third, spending $16,841 per pupil in fiscal year 2010. The Labor Department is awarding five grants to that state for a combined total of $4,323,900.

Census figures show that states spending the least per pupil were Utah ($6,064), Idaho ($7,106), Arizona ($7,848) and Oklahoma ($7,896). And none of those states received grant funding from the Labor Department.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s public school systems received $593.7 billion in funding for fiscal year 2010, the latest figures available show. Of that amount, local governments contributed $261.4 billion (44.0 percent), followed by revenue raised from state sources, which contributed $258.2 billion (43.5 percent), and federal sources, which provided the remaining $74.0 billion (12.5 percent).

Revenue from federal sources increased by $18.1 billion, a 32.5 percent increase from fiscal 2009 and the largest increase in federal funding for public school systems since 1977.

YouthBuild is a nonresidential, community-based alternative education program that helps dropouts earn a high school or General Educational Development diploma while learning occupational skills in construction, health care, information technology and other fields.

It “offers young people the opportunity to earn academic and industry-recognized credentials, practice the skills they'll need to succeed at work, and experience what it means to contribute to their own success and that of their communities," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said.

The “YouthBuild” grants announced last week range from $700,000 to more than a million dollars and will go to organizations and schools in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
Including the most recent grantees, the Labor Department now actively funds 127 YouthBuild programs around the country.

Many participants have been in the juvenile justice system, are aging out of foster care, have dropped out of high school, or are otherwise at-risk of failing to reach key educational milestones and opportunities that lead to career fulfillment.

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