Virginia's new Gov. Charles S. Robb came to Washington yesterday and won quick approval of an employment program for youths in his state from a national group of civil rights leaders, educators, businessmen and politicians that included Vice President Bush and Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan.
Robb, accompanied by Delaware's Republican Gov. Pierre S. du Pont IV, announced formation of the pilot program as he emerged from a 2 1/2 hour meeting with the directors of the Jobs For America's Graduates program held at the Executive Office Building. DuPont is chairman of the program's board.
Robb said the program will begin in September in about six high schools in the state, involving between 250 and 500 students. He would not specify where the program will be located.
I don't have any details to share with you at this time," said Robb. "To be perfectly honest, I had planned no announcement today. But we had the board meeting here."
On Monday in his "State of the Commonwealth" address Robb outlined a number of new laws and programs he hopes to implement, including a pilot state program to help unemployed youths find jobs. During his campaign for governor last year, Robb noted that about 18 percent of Virginia's youth are unemployed, a figure well above the state's general unemployment rate.
Although the board of the jobs program approved the Virginia plan yesterday, it will be up to the Democratic governor to figure out how to fund the project in an era of Republican-imposed budget cutbacks.
Robb said yesterday that he believes the estimated $1 million in start-up costs would be funded by private donations, some state money and seed money from the Jobs Program. Robb, who took office Saturday, joined the board of the program last year while he was lieutenant governor.
Founded in Delaware in l979, Jobs For America's Graduates Inc., is a national nonprofit corporation based in Washington and funded by $3.5 million from the Rockefeller, Aetna and Mott foundations, private donations and public grants. In addition to Delaware, the program has pilot projects in Massachusetts, Arizona, Tennessee and Missouri involving 4,300 high school students.