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SE Alabama agency receives grant to assist in workforce training for older jobseekers
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SE Alabama agency receives grant to assist in workforce training for older jobseekers

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Scott Farmer

Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission announced Tuesday that it was awarded a $315,320 grant from the Center for Workforce Inclusion, Inc.

Almost 90% of this grant – originally from the U.S. Department of Labor – will provide temporary employment to no less than 54 low-income older Alabamians living in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties. These older adults will participate in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), a cornerstone program of the Older Americans Act. SCSEP is celebrating its 56th anniversary this year.

SCSEP, the only federal job training program targeted exclusively to low-income older jobseekers, promotes personal dignity and self-sufficiency through work. Its temporary part-time community service jobs provide a hand-up, not a hand-out for older, unemployed low-income Americans. The SCSEP allows eligible persons to participate for up to four years, but the average tenure nationally is 19 months with the experience and training they receive leading to permanent employment.

As the joint largest U.S. Department of Labor National Grantee of SCSEP, the Center works through a network of local partners delivering various career training programs for eligible 55-plus-year-old workers in 34 states. To date, the Center has placed over 90,000 older workers into permanent employment through the SCSEP program.

“Our long-term, local partners are a key to the strength of the Center and provide the systems to train older Americans into strategic advantage for employers and the Country.” Gary Officer, Center for Workforce Inclusion President and CEO, said. “We are very pleased to continue our support of the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission for the 47th consecutive year.

“SCSEP was a godsend during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Scott Farmer, executive director of SEARP&DC, said.

SCSEP participants were able to keep training from home. Continuing to receive funds prevented participants from becoming homeless. And now, the participants are safely returning to their training sites where they help local community, faith-based, and public agencies carry out their mission, such as Wiregrass 2-1-1 and Wiregrass Area Food Bank.

“We are so fortunate to be partnering with the senior employment program for over 12 years,” David Duke, Wiregrass 2-1-1 executive director, said. “By working in SCSEP positions, SCSEP is providing hope and dignity to low-income jobseekers 55 and older who have the toughest employment challenges. The grant from the Center is essential to our being able to deliver this program in our community.”

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