Attempt to save Franklin’s LBJ Job Corps Center
The Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps (LBJ) has been a vital resource to Macon County for decades. Since 2006, students at LBJ have contributed nearly $2 million in renovations and improvements to countless projects in the county.
From cleaning up trash at Franklin High School after football games to constructing railings at Macon County's Veteran's Park, to planting trees and landscape at schools all over the district, LBJ has partnered with the county to use the vocational training taught at the facility to improve the community. Students volunteer their time to the county and are able to complete much needed work for a fraction of what it would cost to contract the services out. In return, the hands-on experience students receive by completing the projects is invaluable to their education and training at LBJ.
Due to federal budget cuts, LBJ programs such as the critical carpentry training program are at risk of being cut and closure of the entire center is possible. Macon County is at risk of losing the countless hours of community service the center contributes yearly. Macon County officials have stepped up and are working on a plan to send a stern message to members of Congress about the importance of the program to Macon County and to the students who rely on it for a second chance.
During a special called meeting last Thursday, county commissioners adopted a resolution opposing possible reductions to Job Corps and hope the resolution will send a message to lawmakers. “That the Macon County Board of Commissioners fully supports the efforts of the Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps, and requests that the federal government reinstate the carpentry program and hold harmless our local Job Corps by maintaining their full funding, while the Department of Labor and the USDA seek to overcome their budget shortfalls,” reads the resolution.
The resolution to Washington emphasizes the tremendous impact that LBJ has had on the community, “The Job Corps has saved the state of North Carolina countless millions of dollars by educating youth who might otherwise be dependent on government support programs and stuck in the cycle of poverty and Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps students and staff have contributed thousands of hours of community service to Macon County and the Town of Franklin, saving our citizens over a million dollars in local public projects signaling the importance of giving back to their community”
More than the importance of the center to the community, commissioners urged Washington to reconsider the budget cuts because of the vital services and opportunities that the center has provided for thousands of youth over the last 40 years.
“The Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Center provides North Carolina's economically disadvantaged youth with critical residential, academic and technical training services; and whereas, Youth enrolled in Job Corps, many of whom were homeless, dropped out of school, were foster children, or were otherwise disadvantaged, receive intensive academic remediation, gain employability, learn life skills and receive job placement assistance,” reads the resolution.
In addition to the resolution, County Commissioner Chair Kevin Corbin sent a letter to Congressman Mark Meadows pleading with him to work on behalf of Macon County to save the center. “North Carolina has three federally funded Job Corps Centers, one in Cherokee, one in Brevard and ours, the LBJ Job Corps Center, here in Macon County,” reads Corbin's letter to Meadows. “All three are in our 11th Congressional District, and all face the possibility of closure due to financial mismanagement at the Washington level. We are gravely concerned about the possibility of losing such a valuable and worthwhile component of our community.”
Corbin made his case to Congressman Meadows by explaining the impact LBJ has on the students who participate in the program. “The center has over a 70 percent post-graduation placement rate, an impressive statistic, given North Carolina's economy and dismal unemployment rates affecting youth,” wrote Corbin. “In regards to specific training, we learned that recently the carpentry program has been curtailed due to budget issues at the Washington level. This program alone affects more than 70 of our 205 Job Corps students and their instructors. In addition, businesses in our state are positively affected by LBJ's internship program and the skilled graduates who enter into the workforce.”
“The Macon County Board of Commissioners supports the efforts of the LBJ Job Corps Center and the many positive things the program does for our community. We encourage Congress to determine the reasons for the federal budget shortfall, to hold harmless our local Job Corps and to maintain their full funding,” concluded Corbin.
Franklin's Job Corps Center nor Congressman Mark Meadows could be reached for comments as of press time.
About Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps
The Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Center in Franklin was the first center to open in the country. It employees around 70 workers and has an enrollment of 205 students.
Job Corps was created in 1964 by the Economic Opportunity Act and owes it’s creation to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Job Corps was modeled after the depression era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) that was established in the 1930’s as emergency relief program. The CCC provided room, board, and employment to thousands of unemployed young people. The Job Corps program was built on many of its methods and strategies.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service, Lyndon B. Johnson Civilian Conservation Center is to “train youth in educational, social, and career technical training skills; while assisting in the conservation of the Nation’s natural resources and contributing value to our communities.”
In keeping with their mission statement, the LBJCCC is a residential training program located on 24 acres in the Nantahala National Forest, located near Franklin, North Carolina. LBJCCC is a 205 on board strength (OBS) center that assists young people ages 16 through 24 to improve the quality of their lives through social skill, vocational and academic training. The Center has approximately 147,026 gross square feet (GSF) in 34 buildings. The center is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/ Forest Service through an Interagency Agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor. There is only one campus; no branches or extensions. The guidelines for center operations are set forth in the Forest Service Handbook 1809.12, and the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Handbook.
The center provides young adults a free opportunity to earn a high school diploma or GED, career technical training that helps young people learn a career, and obtain social/independent living skills to help them find and keep a good job. LBJCCC offers career planning, on-the-job training, job placement, residential housing, food service, driver’s education, basic health and dental care, a bi-weekly basic living allowance and clothing allowance. Students receive employability skills training, career counseling, and career transition support services to prepare them for their career. Students will also receive training in one of eight different career technical training offerings: Culinary, Office Administration, Carpentry, Brick, Cement, Paint, Facilities Maintenance, and Welding. In addition, the Residential Living provides opportunities for student leadership and independent living skills to enhance success for the student’s personal and professional future.
At LBJCCC, the center’s Community Industry Council (CIC) which is made of business and industry leaders in the community, regional employers, union affiliations, and other industry? they assist with trends and guide the curricula and vocational offerings. In conjunction, there is a Career Transition Readiness certification that is provided through a partnership with the local community college. The certification is a nationally recognized and industry approved certification through Work Keys that gives LBJCCC students an added edge that employers are looking for in its future employees. This certification assures employers that LBJCCC students can locate information, and apply math and reading skills thus reducing the time and money organizations spend training new employees. LBJCCC’s transition class also provides life skills training and revisits employability skills and job searching. It is the goal of LBJCCC to place every student in the workforce, advanced training, or the military. Upon leaving the center, Job Corps also provides continued assistance to student through the Career Placement Services with whom graduates can turn to for assistance as they transition into the workforce.
As the nation begins to recover from a stubborn recession, LBJCCC is also going to great lengths to attract and train today’s youth for businesses, become entrepreneurial to help create jobs, and strengthen community vitality in the communities in which they will return.
Today, LBJCCC staff members are poised as educators and leaders in producing young adults with integrity, leadership, education and vocational skills and providing solutions that help its future employers thrive and grow. Please feel to contact us by telephone at 828-524-4446 and the website address is www.lyndonbjohnson.jobcorps.gov.