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How do I Participate in YouthBuild?

The Housing Authority of Champaign County YouthBuild program provides education, career services, and training, as well as trade-specific certifications to young adults (between ages 16 and 24), generally high school dropouts.

The YouthBuild program has three components: construction (40%), education (50%), leadership (10%). YouthBuild students spend time on a job site, learning the construction trade with hands-on experiences of building homes for their own communities and other small projects. This creates housing for low-income families while giving the students marketable job skills.

  • Mental Toughness Period

    • Assessing willingness to succeed
    • Mental & physical challenges
    • Planning Education
    • Community service
  • Programming Begins

    • A/B Schedule
    • Groups organized by skill level & career interest
    • Classroom combination of education & workshops
  • On the Job Training

    On site work experience with employment partners.

  • Supportive Services

    • Follow Up
    • Maintaining communication
    • Supporting needs
    • Communicating with employers
    • Mental Health Counseling
    • Trauma Informed Training (Staff & Participants)
    • Environmental Adaptations
    • Mentoring
    • Family support & Stabilization
    • Nutrition Assistance
  • Career Placement

    • Developing a strong workforce
    • Placing youth in employment
    • Post secondary education
    • Apprenticeship
    • 2 and 4 Years degree programs
    • Technical training

Mental Toughness will consist of a month-long period of intense classroom testing, a willingness to engage in all program aspects including construction training and hands-on work, team-building activities, responsibility, garnering a respect of community, ability to adhere to rules and expectations, all while receiving assistance to any barriers that may prohibit them from success in the YouthBuild program (completion of Mental Toughness does not guarantee a placement in the program). The enrollees are then evaluated by staff and selected to join the program for a six-month cohort, followed by a graduation.

Construction Training

Students will earn the following construction certifications while in the YouthBuild program: Flaggers, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research). The alternate times are spent on education in the YouthBuild classroom, with the goal of completing their high school diploma through the online portal, Penn Foster. Leadership is taught explicitly in YouthBuild programs, based on the philosophy that young people are not a burden, but rather a resource to be tapped.

National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)

  • Basic Safety Intro to Construction Math
  • Hand Tools
  • Power Tools
  • Construction Drawings
  • Basic Rigging
  • Basic Communication
  • Basic Employability

Many YouthBuild students come directly from heavily impacted neighborhoods or from difficult life situations, so through counseling and other wrap-around supportive services are available to help them deal with anger management, family responsibilities, and other adjustment/life direction issues. This, combined with ensuring opportunity and placement for graduates, means that many YouthBuild graduates go on to college, work in the non-profit sector, serve on committees, and become overall productive members of their communities.

Class sessions are Mondays—Fridays, from 10AM—3PM while assisting each youth through their journey to an academic or career pathway. Our participants will remain in the program for a total of 36 months, moving towards building a brighter future.

YouthBuild is now accepting applications for classes!

Applications and all supporting documentation must be submitted by email or in-person to 2008 N. Market Street, Champaign IL, 61822 

A 17-year-old high school student, Brandy is unhappy, confused, and in a life crisis, decides to turn her life around after confronting issues that seem insurmountable. Through the eyes of who she is now in the present day, we see her story unfold through our hero.

After awakening, she is excited and is off to see for herself. Time passes for Brandy, who enrolls in the program. The YouthBuild community bands together to learn, grow, and Brandy finds a new way of seeing things.

While the YouthBuild team is making final preparations for the completion of a remodel, Brandy feels excited and filled with happiness about the direction her life is taken. She graduates from the program and knows now that it has changed her life forever. Finally, Brandy looks back on her former self to see that her FUTURE is so bright she has to wear shades!

Brandy’s Story

Oversleeping in the morning, she rushes to school. But, after young Brandy is informed that she is too late and cannot take her test, she is mixed with emotions – Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness – she leaves and quits school.

Returning home, Brandy is conflicted on how best to navigate this new reality and inform her grandmother who she lives with. Grandma, frustrated, tells her that she needs to get moving and find a job! That night, Brandy struggles with what to do and where to go to find the answers. Searching the internet for clues, she stumbles on the YouthBuild Program. She sees the possibilities and makes the decision to check it out the following day.