Grant program seeks to “reconnect” youth to education, job opportunities

The Rapides Foundation has released a new funding opportunity that addresses the high number of young adults ages 16 to 24 who are neither in school nor working, often referred to as “disconnected youth.” The Reconnecting Cenla Program Grant seeks to reconnect these young people to education and employment opportunities in the region through grants to local organizations.

“Research has shown that young adults who experience disconnection have significantly lower incomes, are less likely to be employed, and have poorer health outcomes than their peers,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “The Foundation is looking for community organizations and partnerships interested in working with these young people on reengagement strategies to help them obtain the education, skills or credentials needed to get a higher-wage job.”

The Reconnecting Cenla Program Grant provides grant awards up to $300,000, with a grant term of up to 36 months. The goal of the funding opportunity is to support a mix of urban and rural community anchor organizations throughout the Foundation’s nine-parish service area to develop local coordinated systems which will identify and recruit disconnected youth and address specific barriers they face when reengaging to education and/or employment services.

An informational webinar will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 16, for interested applicants to learn about the new grant.

Visit to register for the webinar.

Full details about the funding opportunity, including the Request for Proposals, eligibility criteria, proposal submission deadlines and online application link, can be found under the Grants tab at Letters of Intent, the first step in the grant process, must be submitted by Tuesday, August 9.

The Foundation expanded its work in 2019 to address disconnected youth. In Central Louisiana, an estimated 10,900 young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor in school. The Reconnecting Cenla Program Grant complements the Foundation’s Beyond Graduation Project, a retention strategy launched in 2021 to ensure students stay within the education pipeline. Both programs are funded as part of the Foundation’s Worforce Skills and Talent Development component of its Economic Development Initiative.