"We'd rebuild the abandoned houses. We'd take them away from the drug dealers and give them to the homeless people." When staff members from the original Youth Action Program asked young people in 1978 what they would do to save their communities if they had the chance, that was the answer they received. Good intentions were turned into tangible deeds as the total number of affordable homes built by YouthBuild students has reached over 33,000 to date. Inspired by its Youth Action predecessor , YouthBuild helps some of the 2.3 million 16-24 year olds who are neither in school or employed attain marketable job skills while simultaneously helping their communities increase the availability of affordable housing. It is currently offering grants to organizations who will provide occupational skills training to at-risk youth as they build and renovate homes to be used by low-income families.
The YouthBuild Organization
YouthBuild USA is a nonprofit that is primarily funded by the Department of Labor, although it receives private contributions as well. It is administered through a network of local nonprofits, community colleges and public agencies in 46 states. Every year it enrolls about 10,000 unemployed youth who lack high school diplomas in programs that provide holistic life skills that assist them in:
- Achieving their high school diplomas or equivalents
- Obtaining job skills while earning a living allowance
- Gaining industry certifications in green construction, healthcare, technology, or customer service
- Counseling and support in solving childcare, housing, financial, and criminal justice issues
- Participating in community service and advocating for their communities
- Transitioning into post-program placement such as college, apprenticeships, and employment with the support of transition coordinators and mentors.
In 2014, about one-third of the youth who started in the program had been involved with the courts. Yet participants managed to achieve the following remarkable outcomes according to YouthBuild statistics:
- 77% of all enrollees received their high school diplomas or equivalent and/or industry-recognized credentials
- 61% continued to jobs or post secondary education
- 72% of those who were placed in jobs stayed on them for at least 6 months
- The recidivism rate within one year for court-involved students was only 9%
Applying for Funding
Eligible applicants include Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, and nonprofits including faith and community-based organizations. Applicants must plan to build or renovate at least one housing unit during the project period. The program should primarily serve youth from disadvantaged populations. Apply by May 9, 2017.
"It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men."