Trenton, NJ – The Christie Administration today announced that the Urban Youth Corps summer jobs program will be beautifying New Jersey highways and urban gateways for a second consecutive year.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Division of Civil Rights and Affirmative Action, which administers the program, will be mailing letters this week to cities, non-profit organizations and community groups to encourage them to apply for the competitive funding.

The summer jobs program, which was revived with great success last year after several years of dormancy, will create employment opportunities for hundreds of young adults who will develop essential employment skills while designing and carrying out roadway enhancement projects.

NJDOT anticipates awarding 12 grants of up to $32,000 each, as it did last year.

 “We look forward to building on the successes of last year’s Urban Youth Corps program,” said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson.  “The creative projects that were carried out last summer helped improve the appearance of our highways.”

“The Christie Administration supports this program because it understands the importance of reaching deep into communities to nurture employment skills and a sense of Jersey Pride among young adults who for any number of reasons face obstacles in landing a job,” said Melanie Armstrong, NJDOT Director, NJDOT Division of Civil Rights and Affirmative Action.

Grant proposals should target areas near state roads that are chronically plagued by litter, graffiti, overgrown vegetation or other aesthetic issues.  Grant applications can be obtained online and are due March 8, 2013.

Each federally funded grant will support stipends for approximately ten young adults ages 16-25 and a supervisor, as well as equipment and supplies.

Participants will receive employment and life-skills training.  A primary benefit to participants is gaining work experience that will help them succeed in future efforts to obtain jobs.  Communities benefit from projects that create attractive gateways for residents and visitors.

The NJDOT Urban Youth Corps program is separate and distinct from the state-funded New Jersey Youth Corps program, which is administered by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and which   operates year-round at 11 sites statewide.

Since its launch in the summer of 2010, “Clean Up New Jersey” has included dozens of concentrated highway cleanup efforts by NJDOT’s workforce of nearly 500 maintenance and operations workers. During these efforts, all maintenance needs along a selected segment of highway are addressed, including litter pick-up, mowing, vegetation trimming, guiderail repair, and graffiti eradication.

Other components of the initiative include litter pick-up and grass trimming by Department of Corrections inmates, wildflower plantings and a revived Adopt-A-Highway program.  The summer Urban Youth Corps program is a crucial element to the campaign.

Attractive and well-maintained highways, including the gateways to our cities, help promote New Jersey as a great place to live, visit or establish a business.