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The federal program Job Corps will tap into a proposed $1.7 billion budget not simply to provide career-development services to at-risk men and women but to raise awareness of the “inherent goodness” found in each human being.

The money will be spent to make people feel good.

The “I Am Somebody” initiative for fiscal year 2015 will teach appreciation of “ethnic diversity” in response to problems among job training and other employment-assistance recipients, according to the project Statement of Work, or SOW, which WND located via routine database research.

“Recently Job Corps students have shown intolerance for students who look different than them or have abilities different from theirs,” according to the SOW.

“The workshop is designed to help Job Corps students, ages 16-24, appreciate the ethnic diversity at the Job Corps Center in which they are seeking their trade or higher education.”

The project’s name mirrors that of a poem frequently recited by Rev. Jesse Jackson and attributed to Rev. William H. Borders Sr.

Jackson in 1971 on the PBS show “Sesame Street” recited the piece – containing declarations such as “I may be on welfare/But I am somebody” – with a multi-ethnic group of children:

The primary goal of “I Am Somebody” workshops, which initially will be carried out at Job Corps-affiliated U.S. Department of Agriculture/Forest Service facilities, will be to help students create a more “inclusive” environment.

The atmosphere of inclusiveness will allow the students “to be more mindful and more respectful of individuals with diverse backgrounds.”

The Forest Service says it wants to challenge students to establish new relationships “with the understanding that having the tools to manage differences and similarities make them stronger in the workforce and better individually.”

The “I Am Somebody” concept was crafted to “encourage students to live with intention, purpose, and wellness by taking care of the mind, the body and spirit through the reduction of stress, support systems, self-love and self-respect,” the SOW says.

“We want them to know they are relevant, important, and a ‘Beneficial Presence’ on this earth.”

The Forest Service appears to be transforming its Job Corps Centers into positive-thinking factories for tradesmen in the following 14 programs, each of which is pairing a positive message with the “I Am Somebody” approach.

  • Business Technologies – I AM: Truthful
  • Carpentry – I AM: Compassionate
  • Construction Craft Laborers – I AM: Grateful
  • Electrical – I AM: Respectful
  • Health Occupations – I AM: Motivated
  • Masonry – I AM: Forgiving
  • Painting – I AM: Creative
  • Welding – I AM: Peaceful
  • Advanced Forestry – I AM: Unique
  • Auto Mechanics – I AM: Confident
  • Culinary Arts – I AM: Fulfilled
  • Facilities Maintenance – I AM: Successful
  • Landscaping – I AM: Focused
  • Information Technology (Computer Repair) – I AM: Awesome

The Forest Service, which did not disclose the project’s cost, will hire contractors to prepare Job Corps “alumni” to run the “I Am Somebody” workshops.

The former program participants will receive public presentation and speaking-skills training then travel to various Job Corps centers that the Forest Service manages.

Separately, Job Corps could receive $75 million to build new centers and renovate existing facilities across the nation, according to the FY 2014 Congressional Budget Justification.

Job Corps operates academic and career training programs through 125 centers across 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The agency may get these funds under the watchful eye of the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, or IG, which last year criticized Job Corps for lax oversight of facility construction plans, which subsequently led to cost overruns.

While Job Corps has reported varied successes among its participants in categories such as GED completion and job placement, it has acknowledged that about one in six new students quit the program within the first 60 days:

“Students who leave the program early are generally individuals who cannot adjust to the institutional setting or the disciplined environment, who become homesick, or who have personal or family issues that need to be resolved before they are able to focus on their future.”

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