Eastern Ark jobs program for youth receives $175,000 from DRA

MARIANNA — A new economic development project in eastern Arkansas received $175,000 from the Delta Regional Authority on Tuesday to renovate a former elementary school that will house a vocational training program for youth.

The Special Training in Remedial Instruction and Vocational Education Institute of Technology will provide students ages 14-19 from nine public school districts in Lee, Monroe, Phillips and St. Francis counties with an intense career and technical skills development program, according to a DRA news release announcing the investment.

The STRIVE program, which is a part of the Regional ALE High School, will be offered in partnership with East Arkansas Community College and Crowley’s Ridge Technical Institute. Course offerings will include specialized training in building technology (construction trades), cosmetology, computer technology, culinary arts, welding, HVAC and medical professions, along with necessary work ethic skills.

During their time in the program, students will also have access to summer work and internship opportunities throughout the region. Each student will have a case manager who will work with them directly throughout their time in the program.

“This program is vitally important,” said Steve Jones, Gov. Mike Beebe’s designee to the DRA board of governors.

Jones said the program gives at-risk youth the opportunity to complete their high school education, provides them with a skill and prepares them to become a tax-paying adult.

Tuesday’s announcement was made at the Lee County School District office in Marianna.

“This is another opportunity for students to be successful in their educational and professional careers. STRIVE Institute provides further tools and job training that are necessary for our youth to be successful in obtaining a job once they graduate and contributing to their local economy,” said DRA Chairman Chris Masingill.

The DRA is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Mississippi River Delta.

Through 12 cycles of federal investment, the Authority is helping to create and retain more than 41,000 jobs and has leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investment.

Projects in Arkansas received more than $1.4 million in DRA awards in the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.