Dana Littlefield (UT San Diego) | December 25, 2012

SAN DIEGO — A program that provides job training and life ski*ls to some of San Diego County’s chronically unemployed is pegged to receive an $820,000 federal grant to continue its work with juvenile offenders.

Second Chance, a nonprofit organization launched in 1993, will use the money to fund a training course that helps young people who have served time in Juvenile Hall or other youth detention facilities get a fresh start.

The three-part course, titled Juvenile Options for Lifelong Transitions, or JOLT, will serve 80 participants over the next two years.

“When you have had a life of being told, ‘Don’t bother, you’ll never make it. Don’t even try,’ you start to believe it,” said Robert Coleman, Second Chance’s executive director.

“We want to reset those messages of old and to give them hope,” Coleman said.

The U.S. Department of Labor provided the grant.

Ricky Valdez, manager of the Second Chance’s youth programs, said the grant comes at the right time, given that JOLT’s previous federal funding source ended in September. Since the program started in 2009, it has served more than 250 young people, some of whom have had a history of repeat incarceration and gang violence.

It serves young people ages 14 and up.

Prospective participants — they have committed offenses ranging from minor truancies to serious felonies — are contacted before they leave Juvenile Halls in East Mesa or Kearny Mesa, the Girls Rehabilitation Facility or the county’s youth ranch facilities.

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Photo credit: KPBS

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