Motivated young people gather virtually for the annual
YouthBuild USA AmeriCorps Conference of Young Leaders.
With a distinct focus on global citizenship, 82 young leaders from YouthBuild programs around the world and 14 YouthBuild alumni members came together virtually at the 34th Annual YouthBuild USA AmeriCorps Conference of Young Leaders (CoYL) in October to further develop their leadership skills and expand their network. This year’s conference fully aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
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 explored the concept of global citizenship: being aware of and understanding the wider world while working with others to make the planet more peaceful, sustainable, and fair.
The students shared what life is like in their communities and the service projects they have participated in. They took part in workshops on leadership development, asset-based storytelling, and sustainable development projects for zero hunger, good health, well-being, quality education, gender equality, climate action, and more. By building connections with each other and YouthBuild alumni, participants realized the critical role they play in the extensive, global YouthBuild network, and brainstormed concrete actions they can take to change their communities for the better. They did this using the tool of design thinking — a human-centered, creative, and empathetic approach to developing solutions and understanding their root causes.
YouthBuild alumni facilitated workshops and spoke on panels, inspiring participants to be leaders in their communities. Xavier Jennings, alumnus and associate director of Mile High Youth Corps YouthBuild, delivered the keynote address.
“Leading in truth means, ‘What do you want to do?’” said Jennings. “You’re doing everything in your power to make it there, and you also want to make sure the people around you are doing well.”
Students from the United States, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom spent time in small home groups designated by their geographic regions, connecting with peers and YouthBuild alumni in their area. Live, simultaneous translation in Spanish and Portuguese was available to attendees.
“The global reach of the YouthBuild movement expands the vision of these young leaders to see that they are part of something larger than their respective local programs and larger than themselves,” said John Valverde, president and CEO of YouthBuild USA. “By exploring and brainstorming solutions with their peers, they are aligning around what is just, and learning about what is possible as they work to transform their communities. The Conference of Young Leaders is a valuable convening of creativity, power, and joy. Every year, I’m so honored to be part of it.”
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 more than 275 local YouthBuild programs in 18 countries, with 220 programs in 46 U.S. states and territories and 56 programs in 17 other countries.