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  • Awarded: 2007
  • Issue Areas: Economic Opportunity · Education · Post-Secondary Education · Youth Job Skills
  • Countries Served: USA · Canada
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    About the Organization

    YouthBuild is a youth and community development program that simultaneously addresses core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development.

    There are at least 2.3 million low-income 16-24 year-olds in the United States who are not in education, employment, or training.

    In YouthBuild programs, these low-income young people work toward their high school diplomas, learn job skills, and serve their communities by building affordable housing. In the process they transform their own lives and roles in society.

    For unemployed young people who left high school without a diploma, YouthBuild is an opportunity to reclaim their educations, gain the skills they need for employment, and become leaders in their communities.

    Since 1994, over 130,000 YouthBuild students have performed 40 million community service hours and produced over 28,000 units of affordable, increasingly green housing in rural and urban communities across the USA.

    More than five million American young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are neither working nor in school.

    YouthBuild reaches those with the most strikes against them, offering productive roles in their communities, leadership training, education and skills that lead to well-paying jobs.

    Dorothy Stoneman believes that millions of idle or alienated young adults could provide for their families and contribute to development of their communities.

    273 YouthBuild programs engage 10,000 young adults each year.

    Ambition for Change

    Young people create an alternative future for themselves by learning to build affordable homes, and are inspired to take community leadership roles.

    Path to Scale

    Program Growth

    At the time of the Award YouthBuild projected growing to serve 14,000 youth each year.

    Dorothy Stoneman joined the civil rights movement after graduating from Harvard University in 1964. She lived in Harlem for more than 20 years. As an educator, she noticed young men left behind, unemployed, and sent to prison in large numbers. As a community resident, she noticed boarded-up buildings and people without affordable, decent homes. She began YouthBuild to bring young people into productive engagement by constructing homes. She also led a movement to improve community conditions. First in Harlem, then throughout New York and nationwide with support from YouthBuild USA, the organization pioneered a program that reaches disconnected young adults — those with the most strikes against them, including those already engaged with the drug culture and criminal justice system. It offers them immediately productive roles in their communities, leadership training, education toward a diploma and skills that lead them to well-paying jobs.   At the time of the Award, there were 226 YouthBuild programs engaging 8,000 youth in 44 states, producing housing for 1,000 families annually. Half of the youth enrolled had permanently changed their lives. Six out of every 10 enrollees completed the program and 78 percent of those went on to college or above-minimum wage jobs.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Today there are 273 YouthBuild programs in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands, engaging approximately 10,000 young adults each year.
    • Retail and barista training programs have been added.
    • Research of outcomes for 800 graduates showed that 75 percent were in college or employed with wages averaging $10 per hour up to seven years after completing the program.
    • For those who have been in prison, the recidivism rate is under 10 percent.
    • The YouthBuild model has spread to 13 other countries.


    Dorothy StonemanFounder, Advisor, YouthBuild USA
    Jamiel AlexanderNational Council of Young Leaders, YouthBuild USA
    John BellVice President, YouthBuild USA
    Lashon AmadoStudent VOICES Coordinator, YouthBuild USA
    Timothy CrossPresident, YouthBuild International, YouthBuild USA

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