Ninety-three percent of all YouthBuild students in the USA have left high school without a diploma. They either had urgent family circumstances, got off track temporarily into street life, or the school simply didn’t work for them. When asked why they left, many say that nobody cared about them in the public school. In contrast, YouthBuild programs deliberately create a safe and caring school environment in which teachers and counselors daily demonstrate their commitment to the students and consciously create a peer group of students committed to each other’s success. When asked why YouthBuild worked for them, students will say, “The staff really cared about us. I don’t know why, but they did, and that enabled me to care about myself.”
In addition to creating a caring community, we believe that to help prepare students for tomorrow’s careers, they must receive a rigorous hands-on and classroom-based education, integrating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), college readiness competencies, and higher order critical thinking skills with job readiness, problem solving, leadership, and life skills.
In 2003, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, YouthBuild USA started the YouthBuild USA National Schools Initiative to increase the number of YouthBuild programs that are authorized to grant high school diplomas either as charter or alternative schools. Currently, over 100 YouthBuild programs offer high school diplomas.
YouthBuild USA offers local programs, technical assistance and training in basic school culture, plus curriculum and instructional shifts needed to prepare students for the new high school equivalency tests as well as to prepare all students for postsecondary success.