At YouthBuild, young adults spend roughly half of their time advancing their formal education goals. These can include: working toward their high school diploma or its equivalent, numeracy and literacy skill-building, and hands-on learning, focused on livelihood preparation. In supportive, individualized learning environments, they gain the skills and obtain the certifications or credentials needed to pursue a diverse range of careers and livelihoods, apprenticeships, and postsecondary education.
All young people who enter a YouthBuild program, anywhere in the world, pursue a dual mission: to create a meaningful and productive life for themselves and their families, while giving their best energies to improve the world around them. At the core, students learn job skills in construction and in other high-demand employment sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, retail, and information technology. They also learn and refine soft skills such as teamwork, problem solving, communication, and adaptability.
By doing the right thing for themselves, their families, their communities, and their world, opportunity youth exercise their responsibility to give back and pay it forward. And they do it all while rebuilding their neighborhoods, together.
To date, more than 180,000 YouthBuild students worldwide have built more than 35,000 units of affordable housing and other community assets such as community centers and schools. YouthBuild students have also dedicated 50 million hours of service to improve their local urban, rural, and tribal communities. Around the world, YouthBuild students and graduates have mobilized as part of rebuilding efforts in the wake of natural disasters.
Many young people have to manage family circumstances and conditions within their communities that present significant barriers to their success. Some are forced to choose between pursuing their education and working to survive. At YouthBuild, participants benefit from services that support them in managing and addressing these barriers, allowing them to pursue their education and livelihood aspirations. They receive a stipend for participating full-time in a YouthBuild program for six, nine, twelve months or more. Additional guidance and resources help them better understand themselves, problem solve, and meaningfully contribute to society along the way. Support services include case management, mentoring, career counseling, mental wellness resources, and life skills coaching.
At YouthBuild, opportunity youth develop the skillsets and mindsets required to grow into community leaders. They find stability in their lives and gain an appreciation of lifelong learning. They discover confidence – both in themselves, and in others – and in their ability to succeed. Students are called to play active service and leadership roles in their local communities. And they learn that leadership, accountability, collaboration, diversity, and love hold the power to reclaim lives and communities, one person and one project at a time.
YouthBuild programs develop ethical leaders who take responsibility for their families and communities. Our young people gain a deeper awareness of their personal role in addressing ongoing social justice concerns. They help change the conditions of poverty through civic engagement and community service. YouthBuild works to build and sustain pathways into local, national and international leadership for young people whose experience and vision are essential contributors to global efforts to build a more equitable society and sustainable planet.
YouthBuild is not a one-and-done job training program. We teach young people the tools for professional success and lifelong learning. At YouthBuild, they develop the skillsets and mindsets needed to become truly employable, including market-relevant technical skills, networking skills, professionalism, financial literacy, and entrepreneurial habits that foster the adaptable mindset they need to thrive in future careers.
When young people join YouthBuild, they form bonds that extend beyond graduation. They become part of a movement, a community, and a family. YouthBuild helps place graduates in the careers they seek and helps with transition placement at key moments in their lives. YouthBuild invests in building and maintaining a global network of opportunity youth who are connected, learn from each other, and provide mutual support to their peers. With guidance from and collaboration with our national and international support centers, YouthBuild maintains a strong focus on alumni engagement and alumni services, so that a sense of community remains an essential part of our young people’s journeys.
In addition to the five core elements of its model, YouthBuild welcomes opportunity youth with love. YouthBuild believes that these young people do not need fixing; they need champions who see them for who they really are, who see the power they possess, and who believe in them. While the specific make-up of local YouthBuild programs may vary according to local circumstances, our emphasis on positivity, encouragement, and love are unwavering.