May 2013
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TD Magazine

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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

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.


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

Ann Parker is Associate Director, Talent Leader Consortiums at ATD. In this role she drives strategy, product development, and content acquisition for ATD’s senior leader and executive audience. She also oversees business development and program management for ATD's senior leader consortiums, CTDO Next and ATD Forum.

Ann began her tenure at ATD in an editorial capacity, primarily writing for TD magazine as Senior Writer/Editor. In this role she 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. She then became a Senior Content Manager for Senior Leaders & Executives, focusing on content and product development for the talent executive audience, before moving into her current role.

Ann is a native Pennsylvanian where she currently resides, marathoner, avid writer, baker and eater of sweets, wife to an Ironman, and mother of two.

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