There are an estimated 4.9 million young adults ages 16-24 in America who are neither in work nor school.* Of these, there are estimated to be as many as 3 million youth living in poverty who are not in education, employment or training.** These are the opportunity youth with whom YouthBuild programs around the country work.
Globally, over 200 million youth are working poor and earning less than $2.00 a day. All are in urgent need of pathways to education, jobs, entrepreneurship, and other opportunities leading to productive livelihoods and community leadership.
YouthBuild programs provide those pathways. All over the world they unleash 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, family, and community.
This movement has been created by YouthBuild USA, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works in the United States as YouthBuild USA and in all other countries as YouthBuild International (YBI). YouthBuild USA, Inc. is led by CEO John Valverde and YouthBuild International is led by its president Tim Cross.
At YouthBuild programs in the United States and across the globe, low-income young people learn construction skills through building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their neighborhoods and other community assets such as schools, playgrounds, and community centers.
For unemployed young people who left high school without a diploma, YouthBuild is an opportunity to reclaim their educations, gain the skills they need for employment, and become leaders in their communities.
“The challenge of course is that for every one person we can accept into one of our YouthBuild programs, we’re turning away four or five. We need our young people not just to graduate with a GED or high school equivalency or diploma, our commitment is to generate a force of ethical young leaders who are educated, skilled, committed to service to transform their own lives, their communities and eventually the world. And until we do that effectively, I’m concerned that we won’t be able to address this crisis.” - John Valverde on NECN Television
YouthBuild USA has built a robust network of 252 urban and rural YouthBuild programs in 46 states. They are sponsored and managed by local nonprofits, community colleges, and public agencies. Their primary funding source is the US Department of Labor (DOL) through the authorized federal YouthBuild program administered by the Employment and Training Administration at DOL. YouthBuild USA provides training and technical assistance, leadership development, funding for innovative program enhancements, and advocacy for these programs.
Through YouthBuild International (YBI), YouthBuild has been replicated by NGOs, government agencies, international development institutions, and global companies in 19 countries, where the model has been adapted for implementation in rural and urban settings, located in developing countries, emerging economies, and industrialized nations.
YBI provides training, technical assistance and consultation to governments, bilateral and multilateral donor institutions, national and global companies, public and private sector employment systems, and NGOs who wish to adapt the YouthBuild model for implementation in their local context.
YBI establishes MOU and licensing agreements with each country's implementing partner. Licensed YBI country partners retain the model’s emphasis on building a caring community, and offering basic education. They provide market-relevant technical skills, preparation for self-employment and formal sector jobs, continuing technical and postsecondary education, community service, and leadership development, while adapting the model to respond to the needs and aspirations of local young people and their communities.
Core Values and Essential Program Qualities
YouthBuild’s core values and essential program qualities reflect a unique philosophical heart and spirit that distinguish the model. Program components must be suffused with these values and qualities, and staff must be trained in their meaning. At YouthBuild programs, we speak unabashedly of love, respect, and responsibility; courage, integrity, and cooperation. It’s these driving values that led the New York Times to call YouthBuild “a wellspring of human reclamation.” We believe in the power of love coupled with opportunity.
"There are so many social challenges in the world that need our attention and philanthropists' attention and focus; I know that the way forward is stronger collaboration with other stakeholders and other community members that understand we simply cannot lose another generation to this crisis." John Valverde on PRI/WYNC's The Takeaway
*"Promising Gains, Persistent Gaps”, Measure of America 2017
**“Employment and disconnection among teens and young adults: The role of place, race, and education” Martha Ross and Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, Brookings 2016