Rancho Cielo Youth Corps
Our Rancho Cielo Youth Corps is an on-the-job training program serving young people, 18–24, to be prepared for regular full time employment. Our crews learn through their involvement in a variety of construction projects that teach everything from work ethics to complex construction skills. They are employed by Rancho Cielo during their tenure in the Youth Corps.
This program is critical to the cultural change we are trying to affect, providing youth with positive opportunities to learn new skills and self-sufficiency.
More than 200 at-risk youth have participated in this vocational training program since its inception in 2008. Rancho Cielo Youth Corps gives these youth, many of whom are gang affiliated, the opportunity to learn job skills while being compensated for their work. Referrals for participation come from the court system as an alternative to incarceration, from the Probation Department, from educators, from the Department of Health or from others. We are the primary employment program for AB-109 youth, aged 18-24, referred to us by the Probation Department via a contract with the Community Corrections Partnership.
Youth Corps members work between 30-40 hours a week and are evaluated weekly by their Program Supervisor and the Case Manager. The first week is non-paid and voluntary. If a member can obtain a satisfactory evaluation, s/he is invited to join a crew, and will be paid minimum wage.
The Ranch Crew maintains the Ranch property, mowing, repairing broken plumbing, completing minor repairs on campus, learning while they work. Much of the learning is in getting to work on time, dressing appropriately, and learning how to behave in a professional work environment. We also invest significant time in safety training.During this time, the youth participate in resume writing and interview skills workshops; sessions with Monterey County Behavioral Health; and many other opportunities, all designed for job readiness and job retention.
At the conclusion of this 6 month training period, the member is eligible for referrals for regular full-time employment. The Rancho Cielo Youth Corps builds a bridge for at-risk youth who might be difficult to employ, giving them the necessary skills to allow them to be satisfactory regular full-time employees. A job referral from Rancho Cielo tells a potential employer that the crew member is job-ready. This vocational training is the heart of what we do at Rancho Cielo.
Many of our participants get back on track to college. We are so proud of our young people who enroll at Hartnell College to take Blue Print Reading, Construction, Electricity, and other classes.
What are our results?
Within 6 months of completing the Youth Corps program, 82.6% of the youth DID NOT re-offend; within 12 months of completing the Youth Corps program, 77.6% of the youth DID NOT re-offend.
An often-quoted study out of the Florida Department of Justice indicates that 43% recidivism reduction is the “norm” for this population; that more than half re-offend within 12 months.
This would indicate that our success at reducing recidivism is ALMOST TWICE the “control” group.