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May 2013
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TD Magazine

YouthBuild: Developing a New Generation of Learners, Thinkers, and Leaders

Teens and young adults are given the opportunity to build their career skills.

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Intelligence8
YouthBuild USA integrates student development with education and community service to support and empower low-income 16- to 24-year-olds. Its 273 programs in 46 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands work annually with about 10,000 young people.

Participants work full time for six to 24 months toward their GEDs or high school diplomas while learning career skills by building affordable housing in their communities. Students spend half their time in the classroom, 40 percent on the job site, and 10 percent completing leadership development and service work.

"We know leadership development matters, so we make it central to our program model by connecting leadership competencies with our education and workforce development programming," says Scott Emerick, vice president of education. The organization identifies the skills necessary for youths to succeed as leaders, and then develops and reinforces those competencies through a comprehensive program model.

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YouthBuild USA's programs operate as independent not-for-profit organizations. Most programs are designated as YouthBuild grantees by the U.S. Department of Labor. Those grantees and other programs not funded by the Labor Department work to become affiliated with YouthBuild USA by achieving program design and outcome standards set by the field.

The organization collaborates with a highly trained network of coaches who support local programs. These technical assistance providers coach program staff around specific instructional strategies, along with positive leadership development practices and career development approaches. YouthBuild USA uses innovative training, such as experiential learning, to prepare coaches, staff, and young people for the future.

"We're contextualizing the learning that happens on the work site to ensure that it is related to community needs, classroom learning opportunities, real world activities, and 21st century careers where YouthBuild graduates will lead," says Emerick.

About the Author

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.

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