Residents of Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities face two critical economic and social challenges: substandard housing and infrastructure and youth unemployment. Over 1 million of Rio's 7 million inhabitants live in 700 favelas that lack proper sanitation, paved roads, electricity, and other services. In Rio, 21% of youth are unemployed and out of school. The unemployment rate for youths age 15 – 24 in Rio's favelas is 30.5% compared to 17.5% in Rio as a whole.
For the last six years, with support from The Prudential Foundation, YouthBuild International (YBI) has worked closely with the Center for Health Promotion (CEDAPS) to adapt the YouthBuild Model to the Brazilian context. The first YouthBuild program cycle launched in 2011, with four additional pilot programs implemented through 2015. These programs served 162 unemployed youths, and over 80% of the enrollees completed the program and received market recognized credentials in construction. CEDAPS placed 69% of the graduates into jobs, self-employment, or continuing education/training programs.
Students in these first YouthBuild Brazil pilots also completed 84 Community Asset Building (CAB) projects, including improvements to public squares and soccer fields, renovations of community centers, and recycling initiatives. In 2016, with support from the Japan Special Fund Poverty Reduction Program of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), YBI and CEDAPS launched the second phase of YouthBuild replication and expansion in the country. Through this initiative, there are four programs serving a total of 120 youth in the Borel and Cuidad de Deus communities of Rio de Janeiro.
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