WASHINGTON, DC — September 12, 2002 — To fund programs that educate, mentor and provide jobs for at-risk youth, Danny Wegman, president of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., and immediate past chairman of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), today called upon Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The law is due to expire in 2003.

Wegman envisions a time when grants through the WIA will enable Wegmans and other employers to expand programs like the Work-Scholarship Connection model, a program started by Wegmans in 1987, he testified before the House Education & Workforce Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness. The program provides jobs and college scholarships to talented but underachieving students. It features an extensive support system for students, including youth advocates, school sponsors, tutors and workplace mentors.

The program has produced significant results in an area with high unemployment and student dropout rates. Over 80 percent of the Work-Scholarship Connection students graduate from high school and, of those, 80 percent attend college.

Among the many honors the Work-Scholarship Connection has received are the Point-of-Light Award from the first President Bush and FMI’s Neighborhood Partnership Award, which recognizes outstanding community and educational partnerships initiated by food retailers.

Reauthorizing the Act, Congress should broaden the definition of youths that qualify for funding, Wegman testified, noting that the majority of inner-city youths currently do not qualify. He added, “Those who need the services the most are unable to produce the detailed documentation required.” He also called for changes to make it easier for businesses to participate in programs funded by the Act.