YouthBuild USA Receives $1.5M Grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

SOMERVILLE, MA, May 30, 2019 — YouthBuild USA has been awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to conduct additional research and evaluation on a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) approach for the prevention of substance use. SBIRT will be implemented in 40 to 50 of YouthBuild’s community-based workforce development programs across the country.

YouthBuild programs across the U.S. help unemployed and out-of-school young people ages 16 to 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.

SBIRT is an approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment to people with substance use disorders and those at higher risk of developing such conditions. Screening quickly assesses the potential or severity of substance use and identifies the appropriate level of treatment; brief intervention focuses on increasing insight and awareness regarding substance use and motivation toward behavioral change; and referral to treatment provides those identified as needing more extensive treatment with access to specialty care.

“Our students come to YouthBuild with a range of backgrounds, life stories and perspectives, but they all have the strength and resilience to overcome life’s challenges when they are surrounded by caring people who believe in them,” said John Valverde, CEO of YouthBuild USA. “We are grateful to have champion partners in the Hilton Foundation who will help unlock that potential and support our young adults in overcoming barriers that millions of Americans face every year.”

Identifying and addressing alcohol and drug use has been an ongoing mission at many YouthBuild programs, especially with regard to the national opioid epidemic. Programs report that substance abuse serves as an impediment to program completion, an obstacle to achieving outcomes in the classroom and a barrier to successful post-program placement in the workforce. This grant will help programs provide holistic services to combat drug and alcohol abuse.

This award marks YouthBuild USA’s fifth grant from the Hilton Foundation. To date, the Foundation has provided YouthBuild USA with nearly $4 million to support the implementation and expansion of substance abuse prevention initiatives. During the first phase of its youth SBIRT initiative, YouthBuild demonstrated successful implementation of SBIRT in community-based settings, resulting in better student retention and proportionally more educational and employment placements upon graduation. This new, three-year award will help implement and root SBIRT protocols in even more programs, focusing on those with demonstrated need and a commitment to tracking best practices and participant outcomes.

The targeted programs will include locations from all major U.S. geographic regions as well as a cross-section of programs that are designated as urban, rural, suburban and Native American.

Each program will be provided with high-quality training, technical assistance, resources and coaching support, with the aim of sustainable, effective implementation. Key elements include relationship building, participant engagement and motivational interviewing, and emphasizing the critical need to build a trusting relationship when working with young people.

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

About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help individuals throughout the world living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. The Foundation invests in 11 program areas, including providing access to safe water, supporting transition age foster youth, ending chronic homelessness, hospitality workforce development, disaster relief and recovery, helping young children affected by HIV and AIDS, and supporting the work of Catholic sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.7 billion in grants, distributing $112.5 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2018. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.8 billion. For more information, please visit