For Immediate Release - December 17, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Awards Nearly $1.5 Million in Grant Funding for Active Youth Job Programs

Funds Obtained from Health Care Settlements, Required to be Used for Health Programs

BOSTON - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced that it has awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants aimed at promoting health and wellness in some of Massachusetts' most at-risk communities by creating jobs for low-income teens that promote increased physical activity. Through the office's Project YES ( Youth Employment Solutions), the grants were awarded to active youth programs for the purpose of battling both high teen unemployment rates and the physical inactivity that is a major factor in rising youth obesity and other chronic illnesses. The grants were awarded to programs that directly benefit at-risk youth by providing jobs that promote themes such as health, wellness and physical activity.

The grant funding stems from a series of settlements obtained by the Attorney General's Office against pharmaceutical companies Merck Vioxx, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer. Those settlements require the funds to be spent on programs that promote health.

"At a time when teen employment has fallen to a new record low and childhood obesity is on the rise, it is important to provide programs that promote youth employment and physical activity," said Attorney General Coakley. "The grant funds awarded through Project YES will enable municipalities, schools districts and nonprofits to deal with both of these problems by providing structured programs that encourage youth employment in wellness areas."

The grant was open to municipalities, public school districts, or nonprofit organizations within Massachusetts that serve low-income and/or at-risk youth and offer physical fitness as a part of their current programming.

The following organizations were awarded grant funding:

  • West End Boys and Girls Club (Allston, MA)
  • Catholic Charities Teen Center at St. Peter's (Dorchester, MA)
  • Bird Street Community Center (Dorchester, MA)
  • Hyde Square Task Force (Jamaica Plain, MA)
  • Bikes Not Bombs (Jamaica Plain, MA)
  • ROCA (Chelsea, MA)
  • City of Everett
  • LUK Inc. Worcester (Fitchburg, MA)
  • Greater Fall River Re-creation Committee (Fall River, MA)
  • City of New Bedford
  • Boys and Girls Club Holyoke (Holyoke, MA)
  • Worcester Public Schools (Worcester, MA)
  • Haverhill Community Violence Prevention Center (Haverhill, MA)
  • United Teen Equality Center (Lowell, MA)
  • Methuen Arlington Neighborhood, Inc. (Methuen, MA)
  • Caring Health Center (Springfield, MA)

The grants were awarded to these entities to fund programs that encourage physical activity, teach nutrition and healthy diet, and instill professional skills and work ethic in at-risk youth. To encourage physical activity, youths will participate in programs that will allow them to be coaches, referees, instructors and mentors in a wide range of sports, dance and fitness classes. Youth will be taught nutrition and healthy diet through programs such as farming, culinary training, food preparation, fitness challenges and educational sessions. In order to develop professional skills and work ethic, workshops and seminars regarding career topics such as resume writing, leadership, public speaking, and interview skills will be offered.

Project YES is an initiative sponsored by the Attorney General's Office, in partnership with elected officials, business leaders, youth serving agencies, law enforcement and workforce investment boards across the Commonwealth. The goal of Project YES is to work collaboratively to increase both the number of jobs available to youth and also to increase the availability of supportive, mentoring and educational opportunities which will last long beyond the short term job experience. In 2008, Project YES worked with the cities of New Bedford, Worcester and Springfield to promote and support summer jobs for at-risk teens.

The grant money was awarded during the week of December 15, 2009, and must be utilized by December 31, 2011.