There is a new program in Windsor-Essex to assist at-risk youth.

It's called the Youth Independence Program and its goal is to help young people avoid homelessness.

It was unveiled Thursday by the Windsor Residence for Young Men (WRYM), the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) and its Public Alternative Secondary School (P.A.S.S.).

The program has a classroom-based curriculum that will teach life skills to youth ages 16 to 24, regardless of gender, who wish to become self-reliant, gain a secondary school credit, and receive educational guidance.

There will also be options for youth to receive paid employment training, and referrals to community support.

“Our WRYM transitional housing program for homeless young men has an average 90 percent success rate,” said WRYM President Susan Freeman, “and now, thanks to our partners, we are able to extend that success to more at-risk youth, regardless of gender, even before they become homeless.”

“The Youth Independence Program will provide young people with useful skills before an actual crisis occurs,” added WRYM Program Director Jason Weinberg. “This approach will empower them as citizens to build a productive new life."

The students will attend a two-hour class five days a week for three months.

The program is being funded by a $26,186 grant from the Windsor-Essex Community Foundation.