04.02.09

Leahy Announces Grant For Spectrum Youth Services

Funding Awarded From Leahy-Authored Grant Program

(THURSDAY, April 2) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday announced that Spectrum Youth and Family Services of Burlington has been awarded a $100,000 grant to help fund transitional living programs at the center.  Spectrum is a nonprofit agency founded in 1970 to assist Vermont at-risk youth and families with housing and support services.

The grant was awarded through a federal program initiated by Leahy and authorized under the renewed charter Leahy authored for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA).  The grants are administered through the Department of Health and Human Services.  Leahy last year steered through Congress the reauthorization of RHYA, which included his provision to allow the agency to redistribute unspent funds from Basic Center Program applicants for a one-year grant period.  Spectrum has been awarded $100,000 for transitional living group homes for runaway and homeless youth to provide services to parenting young people and their children.

“Spectrum is one of the many organizations that rely on federal resources for outreach and assistance to some of our most vulnerable youths,” said Leahy.  “Unfortunately, budget cuts over the last several years and these difficult economic times have hit these community organizations hard.  The dedicated people at Spectrum Youth and Family Services are on the front lines every day addressing these problems.  More is needed during this rocky economy, but this grant will help.”

Last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs, held a hearing on the importance of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.  Spectrum’s Executive Director, Mark Redmond, testified about the organization’s unique and successful program Spectrum One Stop.  The first shelter of its kind in Vermont, Spectrum One Stop helps provide food, shelter, clothing and health care to homeless and runaway youths.  Michael Hutchins, a former homeless youth from Burlington, Vt., also testified at the hearing.  Hutchins now works with homeless and at-risk youth at the Spectrum Youth Co-Op, a subsidiary of Spectrum Youth and Family Services.

Leahy introduced the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Protection Act in May 2008.  He moved the legislation through the Senate and it was signed into law on October 8, 2008.  The bill reauthorized and strengthened programs and activities established by the RHYA.  Originally authorized in 1974, the RHYA established a competitive federal grant program for state programs to provide crisis intervention, transitional living, and street outreach programs.  Leahy was also active in the Act’s reauthorization in 1998 and 2003. 

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