YouthBuild Celebrates 40 Years of Empowering Young People with New York City Gala

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Event to honor founder Dorothy Stoneman and Prudential Financial for impact on the lives of opportunity youth across the globe


SOMERVILLE, Mass., August 22, 2018 — To commemorate 40 years of unleashing the intelligence and positive energy of young people around the world, YouthBuild USA will host a 40th Anniversary Celebration and New York City Gala on October 10 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City. Former Secretaries of State John Kerry and General Colin Powell, and Alma J. Powell, Chair of America's Promise Alliance, will serve as the honorary co-chairs of the celebration.

YouthBuild founder Dorothy Stoneman will be honored at the event for her immense impact on the lives of thousands of young people.


Stoneman began the first YouthBuild program in East Harlem in 1978, where she was a teacher and organizer. She asked local young people what they wanted to change about their neighborhood, and they answered “We’d rebuild the houses. We’d take empty buildings back from the drug dealers and eliminate crime.” Through construction, education and leadership training, Stoneman instilled the core values in that first class of YouthBuild students. In 1984, Stoneman and a coalition of youth-serving programs in New York orchestrated YouthBuild’s expansion citywide. In 1988, YouthBuild began to spread nationally, in 1992 a federal YouthBuild funding stream was enacted, and in 2000 the YouthBuild model began its international expansion, starting in South Africa. 


The original branch, Youth Action YouthBuild, remains in the same storefront in East Harlem, having created 124 permanently affordable housing units and helped thousands of young people transform their lives.


Today there are more than 260 YouthBuild programs in the U.S. and 100 programs in 22 countries outside of the U.S. that help unemployed and out-of-school young people ages 16-24 attain their High School Equivalency (HSE) or high school diploma. During that time, they also learn career skills by building affordable housing and other community assets in their neighborhoods while engaging in community service and leadership training. Graduates leave prepared for success in postsecondary education, careers and registered apprenticeships — and as a part of a strong and supportive global community.

Many members of the 40th anniversary Honorary Committee helped YouthBuild’s growth and expansion over the decades. The Honorary Committee includes: Christopher “Kit” Bond, former U.S. Senator from Missouri; John M. Bridgeland, former Director, White House Domestic Policy Council and USA Freedom Corps; Bob Dold, former U.S. Congressman from Illinois; U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York; John Gomperts, President and CEO of America's Promise Alliance; U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Georgia; Deval Patrick, former Massachusetts Governor; U.S. Congressman Scott Perry, Pennsylvania; U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Minority Leader, New York; Olympia Snowe, former U.S. Senator from Maine; and Alan D. Solomont, former United States Ambassador.


Prudential Financial will be recognized as the Corporate Partner Honoree for their partnership of more than 15 years with YouthBuild and their commitment to preparing and connecting opportunity youth to quality jobs. Prudential has supported the launch of YouthBuild programs in Newark, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. Prudential employees and business partners have also invested their time and networks to supporting YouthBuild students. This partnership is another example of Prudential’s purpose of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to achieve financial security.


“Our partnership with YouthBuild is a reflection of our history of corporate responsibility and actively giving back in the communities where we operate,” said Alfonso Munk, Americas chief investment officer for PGIM Real Estate, Prudential’s commercial real estate investment business. “With YouthBuild’s focus on construction and our activities as a real estate investor and developer, this strategic alignment provides us with a unique opportunity to engage our employees, development partners and clients with the local community.”


The event is generously presented by Prudential, The Abrams Management Company, Inc., Belveron Partners, Penn Foster, The Schochet Companies and Van Emden Management Company.


“As the organization and its supporters acknowledge the past, the 40th anniversary gala is also about looking towards the future,” said John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA, who succeeded Stoneman in October 2016, becoming the first previously incarcerated individual to lead a nonprofit with a global mission. Valverde’s personal story of transformation embodies the mission of YouthBuild and his vision for the organization’s future.


“YouthBuild is about second chances,” Valverde said, “And I am grateful to be living out my second chance at YouthBuild. To embody the ‘Build on Love’ theme for our celebration, we will always be devoted to unlocking the gifts and talents of young people. We will also strengthen our focus on creating lifelong learning opportunities for our young people to succeed both personally and professionally while becoming leaders in their communities.”


A number of YouthBuild graduates have shared incredible stories of transformation over the past 40 years, like Johnny Rivera, a member of the original YouthBuild class from 1978 and former Democratic District Leader for the 68th Assembly District in East Harlem.


“My commitment to community service started at Youth Action YouthBuild. I learned that in spite of being poor, we have a duty and responsibility to serve our community and be part of the solution,” said Rivera, who went on to serve his neighborhood as an organizer, school board president and health care advocate.


For more details on the 40th Anniversary Celebration and New York City Gala, please visit

About YouthBuild USA

YouthBuild is celebrating 40 years of work advancing its mission to unleash the intelligence and positive energy of young people to transform their lives and rebuild their communities. YouthBuild USA is the global nonprofit 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