YouthBuild USA is teaching young adults that being young, uneducated and unemployed does not mean that there is no hope. This comprehensive youth and community development program helps struggling youth acquire job training, education, employment skills and a sense of efficacy and control over their own lives. These provisions, combined with counseling and support services, enable them to pursue regular employment and higher education. As a community service project, these young adults also promote neighborhood redevelopment by building affordable housing.
The organization grew out of an effort to help disadvantaged young people in East Harlem in New York City who wanted to create housing for homeless people in their neighborhood. The perseverance and success of those involved inspired support from foundations and later the city. Through this effort, the Youth Action Program quickly spread to other neighborhoods in New York City. In 1988, Ms. Dorothy Stoneman, past executive director of East Harlem Black Schools, founded the nationwide program, YouthBuild USA.
The YouthBuild USA organization has especially enabled youth to recognize their own skills and to gain the self-confidence they need to continue their education and employment. The ability of the program to save youth from drugs and reduce youth unemployment have enabled YouthBuild USA to mobilize the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Corporation for National Service, Department of Labor, local and state government agencies, Habitat for Humanity and local nonprofit organizations to support and extend the program throughout the United States. The program's further growth is limited only by its ability to obtain funds.
YouthBuild USA is a unique combination of education, job training, support and motivation of low-income young people, and the creation of affordable housing for low-income communities, meeting essential needs of all the participants. YouthBuild USA offers disconnected youth a future. It offers the nation a model for constructive action to significantly reduce social problems and to benefit all the participants. Simultaneously, it creates a better living environment for communities and reduces the social costs of inadequate education, unemployment, and antisocial behavior.