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 saw young men left behind, unemployed and sent to prison in large numbers. Living in the community, she saw 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.
IMPACT AS OF JAN. 2014:
- Today, there are 273 YouthBuild programs in 46 states, Washington, DC., and the Virgin Islands engaging approximately 10,000 young adults per year.
- They have produced 21,000 units of affordable housing while working toward their own high school diplomas and becoming community leaders.
- Research on 800 graduates showed that 75 percent up to seven years after graduation were in college or employed with wages averaging $10 an hour.
- During Hurricane Sandy recovery, YouthBuild programs in New York worked with the Corporation for National and Community Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, and sent between 14 and 30 students and graduates a day, totaling 100 YouthBuild participants at a worksite in a single week. The deployment began on December 17, 2012 and continued through January 21, 2013. YouthBuild AmeriCorps programs involved include Abyssinian Development Corporation YouthBuild, YouthBuild SOBRO, and Youth Action YouthBuild. YouthBuild students, graduates, and staff were exclusively tasked in “mucking & gutting” that included deconstruction, and removing damaged walls and flooring.
- In Jan. 2013, they announced the release of Creating Postsecondary Partnerships that Work: A Guide from YouthBuild USA. This comprehensive guide will help YouthBuild programs – and other community-based organizations and school districts – form and sustain partnerships with community colleges, technical colleges, apprenticeship programs, and four-year universities.
- Demonstrated the principle that is now national policy that low-income youth should be included as service givers in American national service programs.
- Spread YouthBuild to 13 other countries.
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