A new project to help young jail inmates find a career, called the Fortaleza Re-Entry Collaborative, won a $483,334 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The program is part of Tucson’s response to My Brother’s Keeper, a White House initiative to support young men of color.

Beginning in January, Fortaleza will recruit Hispanics ages 18-24 from the Pima County Jail to join an HVAC pre-apprenticeship program at the Tucson Urban League that includes a community service component.

Fortaleza also will recruit for a Pima Prevention Partnership program offering culinary skills training, entrepreneurship skills training and a catering service based on the Homeboy Industries model in Los Angeles.

A cultural component will be provided by Amistades, which recently received a Bright Spot award from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence.

A high-school dropout will cost the community $500,000 over his or her lifetime, said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

“This is a program that is going directly to those young people who would otherwise be a cost-negative to our community over the next 30 to 40 years and turning them into a cost-positive,” he said.

“We will work very closely with these young people pre-release, reaching in and talking to them about the opportunity for re-framing their thoughts about the way they see themselves, about the way the community sees them as re-entering partners, and what they can contribute as law-abiding citizens,” said Carol Carpenter, chief program development officer at the Pima Prevention Partnership.

Tucson employers already have signed on to take apprentices and provide job opportunities to successful program participants.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@tucson.com or 573-4346. On Twitter: @BeckyPallack