Why YouthBuild

YouthBuild believes that the goals, dreams, and aspirations of every young person are real. These young people should be seen for who they really are, and they should receive our support. Every young person deserves the opportunity to develop their untapped potential.

YouthBuild is a youth and community development program that simultaneously addresses core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and youth leadership development.

Because of the YouthBuild programs in Illinois, low-income young people ages 16 to 24 can work toward their GED or high school diploma while learning the skills of the construction industry through hands-on construction activities.

Who We Serve
YouthBuild programs serve low-income young people ages 16 to 24 that had experience with foster care, welfare, homelessness, and juvenile justice. These young people are traditionally known as “disenfranchised,” “marginalized,” “at risk,” and “disconnected”. They are too often defined by the struggles they face both socially and economically. At YouthBuild, we refer to the young people we serve as opportunity youth. Our participants have taught us what they are capable of given the right opportunities and support.
Mission Statement

The Illinois YouthBuild Coalition (IYC) is dedicated to expanding employment and career opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged young adults by advocating for an increase of quality resources and community involvement. We partner with opportunity youth to build a safe, secure, and supportive force for
change in the larger community. 

Vision Statement

Illinois YouthBuild Coalition strives to make YouthBuild the program of choice to educate, train, and build opportunity youth in Illinois.

Illinois YouthBuild Coalition History - Our Story

Illinois YouthBuild Coalition was founded by former President Kerry Knodle in 1996. The following year, IYC advocated for the passage of the Illinois YouthBuild Act by the General Assembly, creating a mechanism for launching and funding programs. 

By June 2001, IYC becomes the first state coalition to incorporate itself as a nonprofit organization. Throughout the years, Illinois YouthBuild Coalition provides member organizations funds raised or secured through Coalition joint activity and advocacy. The Coalition continues to advocate for funding for all its member agencies and seek to maximize funding to the programs outside of the Department of Labor and YouthBuild grants. These funds are distributed in a fair and equitable manner.

IYC is one of thirteen state coalitions in the United States, and it is supported by YouthBuild USA and the National YouthBuild Coalition.  The Coalition is comprised of 15 YouthBuild programs in Illinois, which include other youth-serving organizations with similar purposes. The 15 individual program affiliates currently involved with IYC are located in Aurora, Bloomington, Champaign, Chicago Heights, Decatur, East St. Louis, Godfrey, North Chicago, Rockford, Rock Island, Waukegan, and Chicago. All member organizations of the Illinois YouthBuild Coalition operate their YouthBuild program according to the YouthBuild Model.

man using an equipment
students eating
women smiling

Join The Coalition

Youthbuild word cloud - growth, opportunity, change, family, unity, manifest, develop, integrity, dedication, experimental, inspiration, community, equality, teamwork, motivation, inspiration, performance, educational, preparation, love, leadership, second chance, productive, positive, potential, respect

The Illinois YouthBuild Coalition (IYC) dedicates all of our efforts to support youth in Illinois. YouthBuild empowers each of our young people by helping them fulfill not only their career goals but also their personal goals. We are prioritizing the needs and aspirations of our youth. As a member organization you will:

  • Receive access to IYC sponsored training
  • Have access to and receive mutual support from fellow coalition members
Member organizations will be eligible to receive funds raised or secured through Coalition joint activity and advocacy. The Coalition advocates for funding for all its member agencies and aims to maximize funding to the programs outside of the Department of Labor and YouthBuild grants.


The Illinois YouthBuild Coalition relies on donations to carry out our mission to expand employment and career opportunities for opportunity youth. Your gift enables IYC to support a YouthBuild Program near you. Because of you, more low-income, minority youth can receive the education, training, and resources they need.