U.S. Department of Labor YouthBuild

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez at YouthBuild Houston

YouthBuild offers thousands of young people the tools, resources and opportunities they need to punch their ticket to the middle class. These federal grants are part of our broader effort to invest in the future of our nation’s youth and help them climb the ladder of opportunity. 
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez 
August 6, 2014

The US Department of Labor receives an annual appropriation from Congress for the federal YouthBuild program, which it operates effectively with close attention to quality, performance outcomes, and community need.  The federal YouthBuild appropriation for FY17 is $84.5 million.

Each YouthBuild program in the United States is operated by an autonomous non-profit or public entity that secures its own funding – a mix of public and private support. The US Department of Labor is the primary public funding source. YouthBuild USA does not directly run any local programs nor does it participate in the selection of DOL YouthBuild grantees.

Roughly half of the current funding for local YouthBuild programs in the United States comes from the US Department of Labor (DOL) under the federal YouthBuild program which was reauthorized within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passed in 2014. DOL grants funds directly to the local YouthBuild program through an annual competitive process that rewards performance and prioritizes low-income communities.

There are two ways that a local non-profit or public entity can obtain the right to use the YouthBuild name.  It can win a competitive YouthBuild grant directly from DOL; or it can be licensed by YouthBuild USA as a YouthBuild program through the YouthBuild USA Affiliated Network. All local non-profit and public entities are eligible to apply to DOL and/or to apply for affiliation with YouthBuild USA.

The DOL requires all YouthBuild grantees to raise a minimum of 25% in matching non-federal funds. Individual program grants range from $700,000 to $1.1 million and cover two years of programming with nine months of follow up support for about 40 students. There are currently 143 DOL-funded YouthBuild programs in 39 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

DOL’s eligibility requirements for YouthBuild students focus on low-income young people who have left high school without a diploma, are exiting foster care, or have been adjudicated. There is a flexible 25% waiver in order not to exclude any applicant in need of the program’s services.

YouthBuild programs licensed by YouthBuild USA that do not win one of the limited competitive grants from the DOL must raise all their funds from other public and private sources.  This is difficult, and some of them go dormant or close for lack of funds when they do not receive a DOL grant. DOL receives many more qualified applications than it can fund, and virtually all local programs receive many more youth applicants than they can accept.  This high demand and high need creates an urgent mandate for expanded federal funding.

YouthBuild was first authorized as a federal program in 1992 under Subtitle D of Title IV of the Cranston-Gonzalez national Affordable Housing Act and administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was transferred at the initiative of the George W. Bush administration with unanimous consent of Congress to the US Department of Labor in 2006.

On July 22, 2014, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) within which the DOL YouthBuild program was reauthorized. This signifies a major vote of confidence in the YouthBuild model from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, who passed this legislation with an overwhelming majority (95-3 in the Senate and 415-6 in the House of Representatives).  

Bi-partisan support over 22 years has led to a total of 1.4 billion dollars being distributed directly to hundreds of local communities for independent non-profit and public entities, to produce excellent YouthBuild programs for over 130,000 young people who have produced over 28,000 units of affordable housing while working toward their own high school diploma or its equivalent and a variety of industry recognized credentials.