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Resolution on H.R. 1261, “Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act of 2003” Which Would Amend and Re-authorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998

WHEREAS, H.R.1261, "Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act of 2003" as proposed would amend and reauthorize the "Workforce Investment Act of 1998" that brought new emphasis and substantive reform to how youth will be served within the new workforce development system; and

WHEREAS, Workforce Investment Boards, through their youth councils, served as the vehicle to develop comprehensive and integrated strategies to help in-school and out-of-school youth prepare for successful entry into the workforce by offering them a comprehensive array of services so that they were able to successfully transition to the workforce through continued education and training; and

WHEREAS, the Workforce Investment Act created the youth councils with the expectation that they would "... serve as their community's clearinghouse and local experts on workforce development issues concerning youth:" with community persons serving on youth councils in decision-making capacities; and

WHEREAS, the Secretary of the United States Department of Labor (DOL) and her administration, at their 2000 Convention in Tennessee, challenged the Workforce Investment Boards " think outside of the box in creating ways and means to develop workforce systems that meet the needs of their particular communities;" and

WHEREAS, H.R.1261 would strike the mandated "youth council" requirement as subgroup within each local workforce investment board, which would allow local boards to disregard the inherent need to address the education and workforce issues that plague our youth; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP believes that the current Workforce Investment Act of 1998 should not be amended to remove the mandated youth council requirements because it would limit the ability of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities to serve in decision-making capacities and on committees of the current local workforce investment boards; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP also believes that all youth can excel in their lives, with the right interventions at the right time, they will have a major impact on their future success; and

WHEREAS, the current unemployment rate for youth in the United States as of February, 2004 was 12.3% and among African American youth, it was 22.5%; and

WHEREAS, the unemployment rate for youth in 1998, when the original Act was passed was 11.4%; lower than the current youth unemployment rate that added weight to justifying why youth councils are even more necessary now than they were in 1998; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. House of Representatives has already appointed a conferee for the reauthorization of HR 1261 to resolved differences, the Senate has not; and

WHEREAS, without reauthorization of federal guidelines, funding we will be lost for the youth employment initiatives and minority empowerment.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP at its 2004 Convention, urge the United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and the President of The United States, in the strongest possible terms to ensure that youth councils remain a mandated subgroup of local workforce investment boards in the Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act of 2003; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP call upon the Senate to immediately appoint the appropriate conferees to resolve issues related to HR 1261.