Motivated young people gather virtually for the annual YouthBuild USA AmeriCorps Conference of Young Leaders
With a distinct focus on equity in service, 65 young leaders from YouthBuild programs around the world and 15 YouthBuild alumni staff members came together virtually at the 33rd Annual YouthBuild USA AmeriCorps Conference of Young Leaders (CoYL) to further develop their leadership skills and expand their network.
Through CoYL, YouthBuild AmeriCorps students are brought together to fully experience the breadth and impact of YouthBuild’s global movement rooted in leadership, service, education, and job skills training. Throughout the four-day conference, participants shared their experiences with each other and participated in trauma-sensitive workshops to strengthen their leadership development, personal communication skills, learning strategies, asset-based storytelling, social justice thinking, and mental health and wellness. While tending to their own personal growth, they explored solutions for community healing and rebuilding, and increased their social capital. By building connections with each other and YouthBuild alumni, participants realized the critical role they play in the extensive, global YouthBuild network.
“No matter where you come from, no matter what challenges you face, your dreams are valid,” said Alfred Sigo, a co-emcee of the event and CEO of the Pwani Youth Network.
“I’m inviting you to be prepared to be a good ancestor. Prepare for an impact that will benefit generations long after you,” said YouthBuild USA board member Tulaine Montgomery, co-CEO of New Profit and keynote speaker for the conference.
Students spent time in small homegroups designated by their geographic region, which ranged from New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the South Atlantic to the South, Southwest, Great Plains, Great Lakes, Pacific, and Pacific Northwest regions, as well as the Global cohort, connecting with peers and YouthBuild alumni in their area. On the third day of CoYL, students worked in teams to design Equity in Service projects that addressed a need in their community, using their critical thinking, creativity, and empathy. Proposed solutions included more accessible mental health services, updated life skills and trades curricula, integrated job training within housing systems, addiction care, and drop-in community centers.
“The YouthBuild movement empowers strong, ethical young leaders around the globe,” said John Valverde, president and CEO of YouthBuild USA. “With its decades-long history, our Conference of Young Leaders shows opportunity youth that they are part of something larger than themselves, giving them valuable perspective as they work to transform their communities for the better. I learn so much from them as we partner together to meet our world’s challenges. I am so proud of them.”
In YouthBuild programs, opportunity youth – young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor employed – pursue their education, prepare for future careers and grow into community leaders, building brighter futures for themselves and their neighborhoods. Local programs can select up to five YouthBuild AmeriCorps students to attend CoYL.
With love and respect, YouthBuild partners with opportunity youth to build the skillsets and mindsets that lead to lifelong learning, livelihood, and leadership. Responding to the urgent need for knowledge, training, and opportunity, YouthBuild primarily serves young people who lack a high school diploma and financial resources.
YouthBuild USA is the nonprofit support center for a global network of 290 local YouthBuild programs in 18 countries, with 233 programs in 46 U.S. states and territories and 57 programs in 17 other countries.