And it was...
Since 1994, over 110,000 young people have changed their lives, and their communities, through YouthBuild. They've attained countless credentials, built more than 21,000 units of affordable, increasingly green housing, and have helped grow what was one youth development program in the city of Harlem, NY to an international movement.
Today you'll find well over 250 YouthBuild programs around the world -- each one staying true to the mission of helping under-served young people rebuild their communities and their lives.
Here in Massachusetts, that goal is being accomplished every day by the dedicated caseworkers, educators, directors, partners, and students of our eleven YouthBuild programs.
Of the 1500 students we've served between 2009 and 2012:
- 83.6% of them have been placed in full-time employment or institutions of higher education
- 57% of them, compared to 37% nationally in other GED programs, obtained their high school equivalency degree
- 93% showed literacy and numeracy gains of two years upon completion of the program
- 31% entered the program with criminal justice involvement, and only 4.5% recidivated.
- They renovated 325 units of housing for the benefit of low-income families
- Altogether they earned a total of 2,827 industry recognized credentials
- They completed a count of 547,999 AmeriCorps community service hours by donating their time to other nonprofit organizations
Given these numbers, it's pretty clear our young people can do amazing things if presented the opportunity. This is where you, our supporters, come in...
Between 2009 and 2012 nearly 4,500 out-of-school, at-risk, impoverished youth applied to YouthBuild programs across Massachusetts. 4,500 16-24 year-olds with a desire to change their futures knocked on our doors, and we had to turn away 3,000 of them. With the funding we receive from the federal/state government, partner organizations, and private grantors, we're only able to serve about one-third of the young people who come to us for help.
With their help, and yours, we can not only continue to offer our services to the young people of Massachusetts -- but we can improve, and extend them to the two-thirds, or 3000 youth we were unable to serve due to lack of resources.
Whether it's by volunteering, donating, mentoring, or advocating, you can help ensure that every at-risk young person who signs up for YouthBuild has the opportunity to redirect their life through service and education. If you believe in our outcomes and our mission, take action. If you don't, have a look at this short speech given by YouthBuild Lowell graduate Devon Acevedo at Building Better Together. If he can't convince you that YouthBuild creates opportunity, we're not sure who can.
Constantly we would move from one family member's house to the next, just trying to have a roof over our head. That meant moving to new states. It seemed as though there was never any stability in my life.
At the young age of 14 I was put on probation for fighting in school. Then I was caught stealing to try and make money, but all it did was land me in a juvenile facility for two months. I got out and did the same thing over again and got the same result. Only this time I was doing more time -- a year and a half to be exact. While I was there I had a lot of time to assess my life and realize who I wanted to be. I went to a Transitional Living Program for at risk youth and got the chance to change my life -- and I did.
I got out of jail in December of last year and since then I haven’t looked back. I enrolled in Lowell High School and graduated this year with a 3.8 GPA. But I didn’t stop there. I got a job over the summer at Marshalls. Once the summer was over I joined the SMART Initiative (Start Making a Real Transformation) at YouthBuild, I got accepted to Middlesex Community College, and I plan to transfer to the University of Massachusetts in Lowell to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. I’m the first in my family to graduate High School and the first to be in College.
YouthBuild has helped me to get my OSHA 10 Certificate and allows me to further my knowledge in carpentry. I am working on my NCCER Construction Certification and I have played a big role in building the Program Project House and the rehabilitation of the second floor of our YouthBuild Lowell building. Through the SMART initiative I am able to be a flexible student meaning that I am able to attend college while participating in the Program. YouthBuild has given me something to do to keep off the streets. Their support has pushed me to exceed what I thought I could do and I now have a head start to a new life.
I thank all of the people who have supported me through my tribulations. And thank you for giving me the chance to speak here today.