Mission & Philosophy

The mission of YouthBuild USA and YouthBuild International is to unleash the intelligence and positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives.

We seek to join with others to help build a movement toward a more just society in which respect, love, responsibility, and cooperation are the dominant unifying values, and sufficient opportunities are available for all people in all communities to fulfill their own potential and contribute to the well-being of others.


The intelligence and positive energy of young people need to be liberated and enlisted in solving the problems facing our society. Young people in low-income communities want to rebuild their neighborhoods and lives, and will do so if given the opportunity. The desire to serve, to do meaningful work that is of value to other people, is universal. Community-based organizations need the resources to solve local problems and to mobilize local people, including neighborhood youth. Leadership development is a central element of effective community development and youth service. 


Build a broad network of YouthBuild programs across the United States and in other countries. Ensure their excellence through providing funding, staff training, on-site technical assistance, publications, quality assurance systems, reflection on best practices, peer support, innovation, and relevant research on impact.

Lead and support the YouthBuild USA Affiliated Network as the center of gravity of the YouthBuild movement in the USA, and build similar national networks abroad.

Organize national and state coalitions in support of public policies and resources that support YouthBuild programs and facilitate youth and community development.

Link this network with other like-minded networks for maximum learning and impact.

Attract, inspire, develop, and organize new young leaders and sophisticated adult leaders within low-income communities.

Spread the philosophy and methodology of youth leadership development as a central part of working with youth in all contexts, including education, job training, national service, crime prevention, and counseling.

Core Underlying Convictions

  • Every human life is sacred, full of potential, and worthy of love.
  • Human beings have the potential to create a good society in which mutual respect and a reasonably just distribution of resources and opportunities are the dominant realities. Achieving such a society is the central challenge that faces us as a species.
  • Individuals are decisively influenced by the communities in which they are raised and in which they live. Communities that have a rich set of opportunities, caring relationships, high expectations, and that are organized to meet the needs of their members and the children within them, are the foundation of a healthy society.
  • Every community needs ethical, caring, committed leaders who have the best interests of the community members at heart and are skilled in bringing people together to set goals, implement ideas, and solve problems. Leadership development is at the heart of community development.
  • Young people are capable of playing a leadership role and, if encouraged to do so, will bring enormous energy, creativity, and imagination to the work. Existing leaders should bring young leaders to the table.
  • Homes built to affordable yet high environmental standards enhance the quality of life in our communities, giving people safer, healthier and more affordable living spaces. When young people become knowledgeable about the environment, they become leaders who can drive change toward a cleaner and healthier Earth.


  • Respect for every individual’s intelligence and contribution.
  • Cooperation toward achieving common goals within a caring community.
  • Love for each other, humanity as a whole, and all that is sacred.
  • Courage to build bridges and go where we are not expected to be.
  • Diversity as a source of knowledge, creativity, and connection to the full human community.
  • Commitment to work hard and overcome internal and external obstacles to success, change, and excellence.
  • Integrity to keep our actions and values consistent, to do the right thing even when nobody is watching.
  • Responsibility for the wellbeing of ourselves, our families, organizations, communities, society as a whole, and the Planet Earth.
  • Community as a source of strength and wisdom.