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What Is YouthBuild?

YouthBuild is a U.S. Department of Labor-funded non-residential, community-based alternative education program that provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16-24. Youth in our program will learn construction skills while constructing or rehabilitating affordable housing for low-income or homeless families in their own neighborhoods.

Because it is comprehensive in its approach, the YouthBuild program is a number of things at once.

  • It is a community service program, in which young people get to build housing for homeless and other low-income people, providing the most valuable and visible commodity for their hard-pressed communities: affordable housing.
  • It is an alternative school, in which participants spend 50 percent of their program time pursuing academic goals, which may include vocational and remedial education, study toward a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, and preparation for higher education.
  • It is a job training and pre-apprenticeship program, in which young people receive on-site training in construction skills during 50 percent of their time in the program from qualified instructors who are often union journeymen, and then get placed in construction-related jobs or apprenticeships.
  • It is a leadership development program, in which young people share in the governance of their own program and participate actively in community affairs, learning the values and the lifelong commitment needed by effective and ethical community leaders.
  • It is a youth development program, in which young people participate in personal counseling, peer support groups, and life-planning processes that assist them in healing from past hurts, overcoming negative habits and attitudes, and pursuing achievable goals that will establish a productive life, sustaining themselves and their immediate families.
  • It is a long-term mini-community, in which young people make new friends committed to a positive lifestyle, may pursue cultural and recreational activities together, and can continue to participate through follow-up services and a graduates program.
  • It is a community development program, in which community organizations obtain the resources to tackle several key community issues at once, strengthening their capacity to build and manage housing for their residents, educate and inspire their youth, create leadership for the future, and generally take responsibility for their neighborhoods.

For More Information about the Housing Authority of Champaign County’s YouthBuild Program please Contact Lily Walton at

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