WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Labor today awarded more than $26 million in grants to help improve long-term labor market prospects for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The “Face Forward” grants were awarded to 28 community-based organizations to provide juvenile offenders with support services, training and skills development to help them obtain employment and overcome the stigma of a juvenile record. “We should cultivate and encourage the enormous potential of the young people in our country, especially those who started life at a disadvantage. These grants offer young people a chance for success and the opportunity to build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities,” said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. Juvenile arrests can become a major barrier to inclusion and advancement in the workforce. To help overcome those barriers, grantees will collaborate with nonprofit legal services providers to assist in expunging the court records of juvenile offenders and/or provide diversion programs, as designated by the juvenile justice system. Grantees will also offer youth with mentoring services, education and training leading to industry-recognized credentials and post-program support and follow-up services. Eligible juvenile offenders must be between ages 16 and 24, currently reside in the geographic area to be served; have never been involved with the adult federal, state or local criminal justice systems; have never been convicted of a sex-related offense other than prostitution; and be currently involved or have been involved in the juvenile justice system, or be candidates for diversion under state guidelines for juvenile diversion programs. Grants were awarded through a competitive process open to any nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status, unit of state or local government, or any Indian and Native American entity eligible for grants under Workforce Investment Act Section 166 in areas with high poverty and crime rates that met the requirements of the solicitation. The grants will operate for a period of 39 months, which include six months of planning, 24 months of operation, and a minimum of nine months of post-program support and follow-up services for each participant.