YouthBuild Graduates Convene in Washington D.C. for Alumni Leadership Gathering

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

BOSTON, MA, April 3, 2019 — Fifty YouthBuild graduates from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C. last week for a two-day alumni gathering focused on leadership, financial literacy and personal branding, culminating with visits to legislators on Capitol Hill.

Attendees at this event were nominated by their local YouthBuild program directors or by YouthBuild USA staff. Their current connection to the YouthBuild movement and interest in professional development opportunities, advocacy and public speaking granted them the ability to attend.

The event was launched by a keynote from John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA.

“We are so proud of our graduates and the leaders they have become,” said Valverde. “Our Alumni Leadership Gathering reinforced the idea that YouthBuild is a community that can lift and inspire one another to achieve the seemingly impossible, and we hope our graduates continue to flourish in the next phase of their lives, both personally and professionally.                                                 

A thorough program of workshops and plenaries followed, fostering leadership, growth and success from this exceptional group of young people. A leadership workshop helped the graduates identify their leadership strengths, tap into their leadership potential and articulate how they can apply leadership practices and behaviors in their own personal journey. This model turned the abstract concept of leadership into easy-to-grasp actions they can use in their everyday lives. A financial capability workshop provided graduates with the basic laws of prosperity, helping them uncover the causes of poverty and applying methods of success in their finances. The workshop also helped attendees move beyond basic financial literacy to begin exploring attitudes and behaviors that promote financial health and stability.

A personal branding plenary helped the graduates see their personal experiences for the successes they are and gave them the tools to illustrate their life’s journey. The session provided tips and techniques to help define their personal brand in today’s digital-driven world. Such techniques can be used in interviews and advocacy opportunities for the causes that matter most to them.

“I love to learn, and I really love when YouthBuild alumni come together to learn from each other and to gain new perspectives,” said Lena McKnight, graduate of Abyssinian Development Corporation YouthBuild in New York. “The Alumni Leadership Gathering has shown me the power of making connections, strengthening leadership abilities and finding your voice.”

With their skills crafted and honed, the graduates visited the offices of their elected officials, where they took meetings with House and Senate members and their staffs. The graduates educated them on their journey with YouthBuild and their plans for the future.

This event was hosted by YouthBuild USA. The leadership and financial capability development workshops were funded in part by American Express and Experian.


About YouthBuild USA

YouthBuild USA is the non-profit support center for 360 local YouthBuild programs operating in 23 countries, with 260 programs in 44 U.S. states and 100 programs in 22 other countries. In YouthBuild programs, unemployed, low-income, and out-of-school young people ages 16 to 24 work toward their high school diploma or equivalency, while learning job skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in their neighborhoods and engaging in community service and leadership training. Proven effective by the most rigorous program evaluation research, YouthBuild’s comprehensive model gives graduates the confidence and tools they need to become strong, responsible, and ethical young leaders. For more information, visit