There are at least 2.3 million low-income 18 – 24-year-olds in the United States who are neither in school nor employed. All are in urgent need of pathways to jobs, education, entrepreneurship, and other opportunities leading to productive and contributing livelihoods. YouthBuild programs provide those pathways by unleashing the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, community, and family.
Historically, approximately one third of YouthBuild students have been court involved. Recidivism rates for YouthBuild students are extremely low. USDOL[DA1] data shows a recidivism rate of just 9% (less than 5% for YBL) one year after enrollment[DS2] [DA3]. YouthBuild USA therefore has deep experience with, and interest in, policies that help to strengthen re-entry practices, diminish crime and save money for federal, state and local governments. We work with our state and local coalitions to showcase YouthBuild programs as a model for re-entry and diversion.
YouthBuild USA criminal justice and advocacy teams advocate for further public investment in proven alternatives to incarceration that also save tax dollars.
YouthBuild programs place equal emphasis on education and hands-on skills-based job training, coupled with personal counseling and case management, community service and leadership development, and supports after graduation.
In the broader workforce development field, we support comprehensive programming, increased funding for out-of-school youth, flexible eligibility standards, and partnerships with employers that will benefit the young people through well-designed curricula leading to industry-recognized credentials, paid internships, and placement opportunities.
Partners such as PNC Bank teach financial literacy to our students, while several local partners provide opportunities for our students to go through mock interviews and receive feedback.
In the fifteen years of YouthBuild Louisville, over 60% have been young parents, often having more than one child. YouthBuild provides the support young parents need in order to improve their own lives as well as the lives of their families, helping to break the cycle of poverty.
How does the education component of YouthBuild work?
Students recover from lost time and missed opportunities by pursuing academic studies and recognized credentials in formal and non-formal education settings. They acquire basic skills, including literacy and math skills, technical skills related to computers and financial management, and behavioral skills for school, work and life. This component is meant to provide a solid foundation for both post-primary and post-secondary education opportunities and maximize a young person’s success in jobs or self-employment.
YouthBuild is designed to help young people complete their education, learn job skills, develop leadership abilities, and contribute to their communities. YouthBuild’s construction training component offers the following immediate benefits:
- It provides a marketable set of skills that prepare students for immediate employment.
- It offers the type of physical training that appeals to young men who are often under-represented in other job training programs.
- It yields tangible and highly visible products of value to the community, which gives students a sense of personal accomplishment and value and brings the respect of their families and neighbors.
- On a daily basis, it provides communities with a hopeful and reassuring view of young people playing a positive role.
Many YouthBuild graduates go on to careers in construction. These careers offer good-paying jobs, do not exclude young people with a criminal record, allow for them to join registered apprenticeships and trade unions, and meet the needs of housing developers who are experiencing a current shortage of construction workers.
What role does “Green Building” play in the current YouthBuild program?
The Green Initiative was launched in 2005 by YouthBuild USA in order to bring green building practices into our network as our contribution to protecting the environment. Soon thereafter, it became clear that green skills training was extremely valuable for YouthBuild students.
As of 2014, green-building jobs account for nearly half of the design and construction workforce. To help meet this demand, the YouthBuild USA Green Initiative helps YouthBuild programs introduce green careers to YouthBuild students and helps them obtain industry-recognized credentials. Out-of-work and out-of-school young people who attend YouthBuild transform their lives while working towards their high school diplomas and learning sustainable construction (“green-building”) skills.
What is AMERICORPS?
YouthBuild USA became a National Direct AmeriCorps grantee when AmeriCorps first began in 1994. This has resulted in over $77.2 million in pass-through grants to 156 local YouthBuild programs, enabling 3,000 YouthBuild students each year to earn an AmeriCorps education award for the service they do building affordable housing. This partnership has supported the spirit of service at the heart of YouthBuild, making it possible for thousands of members to give over 1.2 million hours of community service in their local communities each year. Since 1994, 22,500 YouthBuild AmeriCorps members have logged a cumulative total of 11.7 million community-service leadership hours while:
- Rebuilding or rehabilitating 4,500 units of affordable housing
- Refurbishing 5,000 computers for low-income families and nonprofits
- Earning 11,000 Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards to help pay for college expenses
An additional 59,000 individual adult volunteers have given 1 million hours of community service at local YouthBuild programs as part of our YouthBuild AmeriCorps initiative. They are local residents or corporate employees recruited by the local YouthBuild program to join in service projects, tutoring, mentoring, board service, or other supportive activities.
When YouthBuild Louisville began looking to create a permanent home in 2010, moving to the Smoketown Neighborhood was a natural choice. Many YBL participants had come from Smoketown, and the community was preparing for a major neighborhood revitalization that YBL intended to be a champion of. Since purchasing the property, YouthBuild has been developing a permanent and sustainable Green Campus while becoming an anchor for the entire Smoketown community.
YouthBuild has been active in Louisville since 2001, what are the results?
Over the past eight years:
- 88% of students have earned a High School Diploma, GED, or career certification
- 82% have been placed directly into college or employment
- 88% of those going to college or a job remained in that position for longer than 9 months
- 76% of students have improved 2 or more school years in Literacy and Numeracy testing
- Only 5% of students who came to YouthBuild as Juvenile or Adult Offenders reoffended after enrolling in the program, well below the national average of 51%.