The purpose of YouthBuild USA is to unleash the positive energy of low-income young adults to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle o f poverty with a commitment to work, education, community, and family. YouthBuild USA incorporated in 1990 to replicate and scale the YouthBuild program with quality after it had succeeded in five NYC neighborhoods. There are now 264 programs in 46 states, Washington DC, and the Virgin Islands. Since 1994, over 120,000 YouthBuild students have built over 22,000 units of affordable, increasingly green, housing. In 2013, YouthBuild International engaged 12,000 young adults in 16 countries.
Community- and faith-based nonprofit organizations sponsor most YouthBuild programs, many of which are led by social entrepreneurs who have started YouthBuild in their communities, just like Dorothy Stoneman, recipient of the 2007 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship, started the first YouthBuild program in East Harlem in 1978.
A key aspect of YouthBuild USA’s early role was to build political awareness and support to get YouthBuild authorized as a federal program. This occurred in 1992, through the leadership of Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Primary funding for local YouthBuild programs now comes from the U.S. Department of Labor under the federal YouthBuild program, administered by the Employment and Training Administration, which makes grants directly to local sponsors of YouthBuild programs on a competitive basis.
In local YouthBuild programs, low-income young people ages 16–24 enroll full-time for about ten months where they work toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while learning job skills by building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people and participating in leadership development activities in their communities.
YouthBuild USA supports the quality, capacity, and innovative programming at local YouthBuild programs through a varieity of public and privately funded initiatives that provide training, technical assistance and pass-through funding.