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More Than 1,200 Young New Yorkers Have Participated In Youthbuild in the Past Three Years; Valuable Apprenticeship Program Helps At-Risk Youth Develop Skills and Knowledge to Get Jobs 

Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the just-passed bipartisan omnibus included $89,500,000 for the U.S. Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program, a $5 million increase from Fiscal Year 2017. YouthBuild is a pre-apprenticeship program that helps at-risk youth from ages 16 to 24 develop skills and knowledge to obtain industry-recognized job credentials, apprenticeships, and employment. There are 147 national grantees operating YouthBuild programs across the country. New York State currently has 20 YouthBuild program locations eligible for this federal funding.

YouthBuild is a nationally recognized pre-apprenticeship program that helps at-risk youth earn their GED, accrue real construction-related job experience and make a better life for themselves,” said Senator Schumer. “I am proud to have played my part in securing this vital funding for YouthBuild and look forward to hearing about its many successes across New York State.”

“YouthBuild helps at-risk youth secure good jobs and achieve their full potential,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’ve seen the beautiful homes that YouthBuild participants have built around New York State, and I was proud to lead my Senate colleagues in increasing funds for this vital program. I will always fight to make sure New Yorkers have access to good jobs and useful training programs wherever they live in our state.” 

“We are delighted to hear of the increased DOL funding for the YouthBuild program.  SoBro operates a YouthBuild program in the South Bronx which serves one of the poorest congressional district in America.  We are excited the additional funds will enable us to serve additional students in dire need of the services offered in the YouthBuild program and for that, we are extremely grateful,” said Kerwin Rivera, Assistant Vice President of Education and Career Development, YouthBuild SOBRO in the Bronx.

“A million thanks for the work that you and your team have done over the years to support YouthBuild programs in New York.  The funding that will allow us to continue to positively impact vulnerable youth and their families in our community. The additional funding will allow us to serve even more young adults who are desperately looking for a community where they can learn, thrive, and grow.  Our ability to offer a basic education, marketable job skills in the construction trades, leadership development, and support services is what our young people need to realize their goals and be successful.  Individually and collectively we thank you,” said Roman Woodson, YouthBuild Director, New Settlement YouthBuild in the Bronx. 

"One of my best memories with the program was when I received my cap and gown for graduation. All of the knowledge and jewels that were given to me still apply to my everyday life. Without DREAMS YouthBuild and the DOL funding, none of this would be a reality,” said Kerdisha Roach, DREAMS YouthBuild in Brooklyn. 

“The increase in YouthBuild funding is great news for Buffalo as the need for YouthBuild programming in our community continues to grow at a rapid pace.  The Service Collaborative operates WNY YouthBuild where we see our annual recruitment numbers reach 500% of our enrollment capacity.  The additional dollars are critical to ensuring that our program is able to provide more young people the essential services they need. We are grateful,” said Bryan Lawrence, Senior Director WNY YouthBuild, The Service Collaborative of WNY in Buffalo.

“Increased funding for YouthBuild Long Island would allow us to offer additional career pathway training opportunities which will empower the community, enabling individuals to achieve success, reduce unemployment and put people back to work,” said Elizabeth Morgan, Executive Director of YouthBuild Long Island. 

"I am delighted that the funding for YouthBuild has increased by $5million dollars, as it will allow for a few more programs to receive a YouthBuild program award.  We need to continue to increase funding for YouthBuild so that every community that needs, and wants a YouthBuild program will receive funding," said Bonnie Landi, Executive Director of Ulster YMCA YouthBuild Partnership in Kingston. 

“Thank you to Senator Gillibrand for her tireless advocacy on behalf of YouthBuild programs across the United States.  As the longest running YouthBuild program and one which is currently sustained by a DOL-YouthBuild grant, we at Youth Action YouthBuild are particularly appreciative and relieved to know that this funding source will once again be made available to deserving programs. For us securing a DOL-YouthBuild grant would mean that we keep our doors open for another three years and provide upwards to 150 out-of-work, out-of-school, low income youth (Opportunity Youth) with a pathway to a sustainable future. The YouthBuild program model specializes in providing Opportunity Youth with a caring and nurturing environment that supports their aspirations for growth and transformation. Yet it is a struggle each year to secure the necessary funding to operate our program and improve the quality of our services. The DOL YouthBuild grant has served as a real lifeline to our agency and to the community at large,” said Robert T. Taylor, Executive Director of Youth Action YouthBuild in New York City.

“The YouthBuild Rochester program at the Urban League of Rochester has been in operation since 1996. Increased funding will ensure that this program not only continues, but also allows us to serve additional students to ensure their path to self-sufficiency,” said Mubarak Bashir, YouthBuild Director, YouthBuild Rochester.

"Engaging and reconnecting young adults to education, work, and their community is key to the continued economic development of our region.  We are grateful for Senator Gillibrand's tireless efforts and leadership in supporting YouthBuild services nationally and we are honored to provide these critical services locally in Schenectady County and the city of Amsterdam," said Jennifer Lawrence, Executive Director, Social Enterprise and Traing (SEAT) Center.

YouthBuild is a pre-apprenticeship program that helps at-risk youth complete high school or state equivalency degree programs, earn industry-recognized certifications for in-demand occupations, and undergo training to build housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities. YouthBuild has a network of approximately 147 active urban and rural YouthBuild grants and has supported over 160,000 young people across 44 states since the program’s inception in 1992.

In May, Senator Gillibrand led a bipartisan letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee along with 38 of her colleagues requesting an increase in funding for YouthBuild for Fiscal Year 2018. It is estimated that there are more than 3 million youth in the United States who are disconnected, low-income, and without a high school diploma. Increased funding for DOL’s YouthBuild Program would help more disconnected youth benefit from these critical job training and educational services.

The text of the letter can be found here and below:

May 25, 2017

The Honorable Roy Blunt


The Honorable Patty Murray

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and

Human Services, Education, and

Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray,

We write to express our support for the U.S. Department of Labor’s YouthBuild program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill. We respectfully request that you provide sufficient funding for this important program.

Our nation’s ability to reconnect unemployed and undereducated young adults is essential to our economic success. YouthBuild programs engage disadvantaged, low-income youth in a holistic, full-time program with equal emphasis on education and hands-on, productive job training, coupled with personal counseling and mentoring, leadership development, and opportunities to serve the community.  

Young people between the ages of 16 and 24, who left high school without a diploma, apply and enroll in YouthBuild for an average of ten months. The program includes an equal division between helping them earn their high school diploma or equivalent and teaching job skills by building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their communities. In addition to construction, some young people train for jobs in other growing sectors, such as healthcare, technology, and customer service.

Since YouthBuild began as a federal program in 1992, over 160,000 students in 44 states have built more than 35,000 units of affordable housing in low-income communities and performed more than 49.5 million hours of community service. The U.S. Department of Labor manages this program with heavy focus on performance, providing ample evidence that YouthBuild works. Moreover, local programs are required to raise a 25 percent non-federal match, leveraging private funds to maximize impact. 

Currently, there are 147 national grantees operating YouthBuild programs, but there are three times more applicants than capacity, indicating the significant need for additional federal support for this critical program. Nationwide, there are at least 5.6 million 16 to 24 year olds who are neither in school nor employed, half of whom are from low-income communities. Every year, hundreds of thousands of young people leave high school without a diploma. We strongly believe that adequate funding for YouthBuild is an effective, strategic investment in putting these disconnected youth on a path to success while building an educated, connected, and skilled workforce.

We hope that the Committee will provide sufficient funding for the Department of Labor YouthBuild program. As always, we appreciate your consideration of our request, and thank you for your previous support of YouthBuild’s work and mission.