About YouthBuild USA, YouthBuild Lake County (YBLC) and its YouthBuild Program

YouthBuild USA

YouthBuild USA, Inc. operates in the United States as YouthBuild U.S.A., and globally as YouthBuild International. Rated one of America’s best nonprofits (Charity Navigator), YouthBuild serves as a catalyst of change that promotes the talents and energy of low income and underserved young people (ages 16-24) to transform their lives by reclaiming their education, engaging in adult responsibility, and giving back to their communities.

The first YouthBuild program was established in 1978 in East Harlem by Dorothy Stoneman and a group of young people who were disheartened by drug trafficking and unsafe housing in their community. After local lobbying and a push to fund this important need, resources were provided to create a program. Soon, it was replicated in New York City with tax levy funds. In 1990, YouthBuild U.S.A. Inc. was established by Stoneman to orchestrate its national replication. By 1992, there were 20 local privately funded YouthBuild programs in 11 states. Today, there are more than 250 YouthBuild programs in the U.S., and around the globe. Since 1992, more than 19,000 homes have been built by 92,000 YouthBuild students.

In 1992, YouthBuild U.S.A. succeeded in working with legislators to get a bill passed that authorized YouthBuild as a federal program under the management of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In 2006, YouthBuild was transferred from HUD to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) by a unanimous vote of congress. It is currently authorized under DOL’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (2014). In 1994, YouthBuild U.S.A. began AmeriCorps programming through funding from the Corporation for National & Community Service in order to integrate service and the education award scholarship into the YouthBuild programming.

YouthBuild programs across the U.S. are individual nonprofit organizations that have adopted the YouthBuild model and carry out its mission. The programs provide opportunities for secondary education completion, career pathways training, and transitional services to college, job placement, and follow up support. YouthBuild U.S.A. provides technical support, guidance, curriculum and training resources, as well as funding opportunities for YouthBuild programs.

YBLC Organizational History

In 2004, YBLC began offering its first YouthBuild program serving underserved young people in North Chicago Illinois. Adopting YouthBuild USA’s model of education, counseling, leadership, construction, and graduate resources, an eight-month program was offered where students spent alternating weeks in education classes to earn their GED, while learning construction skills by building homes for low income families. Service learning approaches were incorporated throughout the program. Students responded with service work not only in construction, but in many areas that supported parks and open land spaces, children, veterans and seniors. As the high school dropout rate continued to rise in North Chicago, the need for YouthBuild’s services increased. Academic services went beyond GED attainment, and opened the doors to pathways for college and career bridge programming. Labor market data was utilized to expand career training beyond construction. As a result, YBLC created advisory groups comprised of educational experts and industry professionals to provide input and design for academic success, curriculum development and training, and overall program planning. Supportive services were enhanced to deliver person-centered approaches to address the needs of the students. The Wellness Program was launched in partnership with Rosalind Franklin University, and delivered on-site weekly group counseling offered to the students during the program year. With an increasing focus on career training and involvement in post-secondary educational initiatives, our career programs grew.

YBLC now offers career training opportunities in Construction, Healthcare, Transportation/Distribution & Logistics, and Utilities. A high school diploma attainment program was developed, which increased academic support for secondary education completion. Today, YBLC serves over 40 young people each year, and provides follow up and assistance to hundreds of alumni. YBLC Inc. is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c)(3) organization, with a 509 (a)(1) designation.

Come every day. Keep coming even after you get your diploma, because YBLC is still there for you. Don’t take this opportunity for granted because they care.

Jamaica, YBLC alum

Stay dedicated and strive for success. It’s not where you are but where you want to be.

Shemual, YBLC alum

It gets tough, but stick it out with a positive attitude. It will be worth it in the end.

Allison, YBLC alum