YouthBuild USA CEO John Valverde Named a Top 40 Trailblazer by Community Resource Exchange

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
YouthBuild USA CEO John Valverde portrait

BOSTON, November 27, 2019 — John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA, has been named one of 40 “Trailblazers” by Community Resource Exchange (CRE), a New York-based nonprofit consulting firm providing strategies and tools to build sustainable, high-performing organizations that improve people’s lives and drive social change.

As part of the organization’s 40th anniversary, CRE is recognizing the achievements of 40 Trailblazers: social-sector leaders working to reduce poverty, promote equity and drive change in the communities they serve. Valverde, the first formerly incarcerated CEO of a nonprofit with a global mission, has made it his life’s work to provide opportunity youth with the support, educational advancement and job skill training needed to find their way forward.

“Young people have intellect, gifts and talents in equal measure, but they don’t have equal access to opportunity,” Valverde said. “YouthBuild USA strives to level the playing field so that anyone, no matter their race, upbringing or circumstances, can live to their fullest potential. This recognition from CRE is a humbling validation of the necessary work being done around the world on behalf of our opportunity youth. I am immensely grateful.”

CRE Trailblazers were honored at a reception on November 6 in New York City. Honorary co-chairs of the event included the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Cecile Richards, activist and author; Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor-in-Chief Emerita of Essence Magazine; and Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.

Valverde was appointed CEO of YouthBuild USA in October 2016. In this role, he leads an international nonprofit organization that provides out-of-school, unemployed young people ages 16 to 24 with an opportunity to reclaim their education, gain job skills and become leaders in their communities.

Valverde’s personal story of transformation embodies the mission of both CRE and YouthBuild USA. While serving 16 years in prison, Valverde earned his college degrees including a master’s degree in Urban Ministry from the New York Theological Seminary, helped teach fellow inmates to read and write, worked as an HIV/AIDS counselor and spoke out against violence. With approximately one-third of its students having been involved with the justice system prior to enrolling in YouthBuild USA, Valverde intimately understands their struggles.

There are 252 local YouthBuild programs in the U.S. and 48 programs in 20 countries outside of the U.S. that help unemployed and out-of-school young people 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.

About YouthBuild USA

YouthBuild USA is the nonprofit support center for 300 local YouthBuild programs operating in 21 countries, with 252 programs in 46 U.S. states and 48 programs in 20 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



 Photo courtesty of Anastasia Aranovich Photography