On a 100-acre ranch in the foothills northeast of Salinas, 28 students, many of whom are on probation, are building a house. When it’s finished, it will shelter some of them from the violence in their own neighborhoods.
This Youth Build project is one of the first steps in an extensive expansion of Rancho Cielo Youth Campus in Salinas. The nonprofit provides young people who are on probation, parole or are at risk of gang affiliation a chance to earn a high school diploma, get job training and a healthy dose of self esteem.
“A lot of these kids have been told they’re no good, but a lot of them are blossoming,” said Andrew Seminerio, an instructor and licensed contractor who teaches homebuilding and other construction at Rancho Cielo.
With county planning approvals in hand, this successful community endeavor plans to break ground next year on the next phase of a major master plan that includes a 27,000 square-foot agricultural vocational center, four more transitional houses and more class rooms and recreational fields. The nonprofit plans to launch a $5 million capital campaign to help fund the growth next year, said Susie Brusa, executive director of Rancho Cielo........
.....Silver Star is a public-private partnership. The Monterey County Probation Department is the lead agency and staffs the program with probation officers. Monterey County Office of Education pays for teachers and aides. The Monterey County Health Department division of Behavioral Health offers drug and alcohol abuse counseling, anger management training and more. And Turning Point Job Services prepares students for employment and places them in paid internships.