YouthBuild participants aspired to earn knowledge and opportunities that led to longterm professional and personal success.

They took their potential and built a strong and stable foundation for themselves. These young people were not afraid to take the first step to build their own future. Participants are eager to share their stories.

Green Community Builders at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School: Chicago

Robert M. is a success story. After struggling with engagement and not finishing his high school diploma at another school, he joined Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos-Green Community YouthBuild Program to earn his high school diploma  and solidify his post-secondary plans. He is applying for colleges this week and  looks forward to a career in law. He walked into the YouthBuild program with an  intrinsic motivation to learn and grow. He learned to hold himself accountable  to act with integrity throughout his time in the YouthBuild program.

Quad County Urban League

Manuel Dominguez entered YouthBuild through our high school credit recovery program. After successfully completing high school, he is currently enrolled with our ComEd Construct Program and is entering a Welding program  in August 2022 through Waubonsee Community College.

Bethel Family Resources Center

Amari McKay completed the program in 2019. She applied and received employment to a solar company. After working in the industry for several years, she is now a lead installer for a solar installation company in Des Moines, Iowa. She earns $32 per hour.

Building Futures YouthBuild

LaNiece May, a 2021 YouthBuild Graduate, completed her HBI PACT certificate in Carpentry and also completed Solar Installation Training. She became employed in January of 2022 at Straight-up Solar as a Solar Installation Technician and LOVES her new career!

Community Youth Development Institute

It is an understatement to say that his life has been challenging. Michael* has dealt with addiction, poor attendance and grades, and involvement in the justice system. Attempts were made by the YB staff to deal with his drug use and improve his performance at school. The final blow was when his family evicted him from his home and charged him with domestic battery.

While providing counseling and support throughout his difficulties, the YB team believed this was a turning point for Michael*. Previous employment efforts were not successful due to his lack of commitment in maintaining regular attendance and tardiness. The team stepped in, found him housing and provided transportation and support with his various court appearances. Michael* began to realize that the change had to come from him. He then began to realize and appreciate the support he had from the YB team and vowed to do better. After a series of unsuccessful attempts at finding employment Michael* began to show signs of wanting more for himself. We believe another turning point was when he was slated for hire by one of the YB employment partners but was turned down due to his open domestic battery case. At this point Michael* became serious about changing his circumstances. The team recognized the changes in his behavior and assured him that he had our support. He was introduced to the Strong Futures program housed at St. Sabina Church. This program helps young males involved in the justice system and provides a comprehensive mentoring, substance abuse and job placement program. The Job Developer assisted him providing all the necessary paperwork and served as a character reference. She also served as the liaison for the school and YB program. We are happy to report that Michael* successfully completed their training program and started a position at a local area restaurant. While there he learned the importance of time management, workplace decorum and managing peer and manager relationships. He began to have regular attendance at school, completed his coursework and graduated in June 2021 with his high school diploma. Michael* now has his own apartment and began working at a big box retailer in September. As of January, he is still employed making $19 an hour. While the pandemic has upended the lives of many people, Michael is an example of how you can succeed despite the odds.

*name changed to protect student’s privacy.

Housing Authority of Champaign County YouthBuild

“I have had the unique experience of being a part of the Housing Authority of Champaign County’s YouthBuild program, and the cool standing of originating from our program’s very first cohort that started on June 1st, 2020. Despite being a recent high school graduate, I experienced a lot of difficulty finding stable and sustainable employment so that I could provide for my children. I have also faced legal troubles in my past which also prevented me from employment and education opportunities. Through YouthBuild I was able to gain career certifications, mentorship, and life experiences which have expanded opportunities for me both personally and professionally.

Through the YouthBuild program I have received the following credentials: OSHA 10, Flaggers, NCCER, and Nail Tech Certification. I was also hired to participate in the Housing Authority’s bright futures internship program which offers young people like myself entry level career opportunities in the housing industry. Today, I am proud to report that I will celebrate my 1-year anniversary as a full-time employee of the Housing Authority on April 5th, 2022. In addition to that I am also in college working on completing a bachelor’s degree in business administration. None of this would be possible without the support and guidance I have received from the YouthBuild program. “

-Tashanee Turner, alumni student and HACC Receptionist.

Metropolitan Family Services: Chicago

A young person who is completing our YB program is now being accepted in to the electrician apprenticeship. After having challenges with math, we provided a personal tutor to assist him to pass the math portion of the test. He is a success story for as well as an inspiration to other youthbuilders.

Youth Conservation Corps, Inc

Jimmy Ollie “He handed me a hammer and it changed my life”. Jimmy came to YCC in 2010. He had been in a gang, served time in jail, was using drugs, had been shot and stabbed. The mother of his children told him he needed to come to YCC to change his life, so he did. During his time in the program, he realized that people believed in him, trusted him and saw a leader in him. He realized he loves construction. Jimmy told our board members, “One day the construction Manager handed me a hammer and it changed my life.” Today, Jimmy a member of the YCC staff and serves as our Construction Trainer, teaching other young people valuable construction skills and providing opportunities for a brighter future.

YouthBuild Lake County, Inc.

Adrian had dropped out of high school and was looking for an opportunity before he came to YouthBuild. “If I had gone back to my high school, it would have taken me three more years to earn my diploma. I knew I needed a better option and that’s when my counselor told me about YouthBuild. I wasn’t working at the time, so I figured I might as well try it out.” During his time at YouthBuild, Adrian earned his high school diploma as well as four industry-recognized credentials. “YouthBuild taught me things that I could apply to the real world that my high school never did. They showed me how to build my resume and helped me practice interviewing.” Adrian always had an interest in mechanics and decided to pursue automotive, a YouthBuild career pathway. “A staff member called me one day and let me know there was an opportunity for me to interview at a local auto body shop. I already had my resume and I felt prepared to interview because I had gone through a few rounds of mock interviews at YouthBuild. “Adrian was hired and started working at Adam’s Auto Body Shop, a YouthBuild employer partner. He was there for only two weeks when they were forced to shut down due to the pandemic. “I got a call back later on from Adam, the owner. He wanted me to come back and work full-time for them as a detailer.” Adrian has been with Adam’s Auto Body Shop for over a year and a half and has since been promoted to a full-time mechanic. “Right now, I am focused on saving money for a house. Without YouthBuild, I don’t know where I would be. I knew I needed to work towards getting my diploma, and now I have a career that will allow me to grow and achieve my goals.”

YouthBuild McLean County, Inc

Angelica struggled in traditional school. Although her academic skills were very high, she experienced long periods of absenteeism and high anxiety because her father was deported to Mexico in 2019. In an effort to stay connected, and despite the cost and time, the family would travel to Mexico regularly. Finding herself deficient in many credits to achieve graduation on time, Angelica determined she would look for alternative education pathways. She was particularly interested in the vocational training offered at YouthBuild McLean County while she was working on completing her high school education.

Angelica’s career goal was to learn construction and how to manage construction projects with her ultimate goal being to own her own construction company. Angelica enrolled in YouthBuild in Fall of 2020. She also applied and was accepted into the Construction Vocational Training program. Working with YouthBuild Construction staff, Angelica learned the tasks involved in a comprehensive home remodel. She assisted in demolition and deconstruction, framing, installing windows and doors, hanging sheetrock, landscaping, painting, installing cabinets and fixtures, construction safety and tool recognition and many other skills.

While working on the construction site project house, Angelica also continued work on her high school diploma course work and completed the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Core Carpentry Certification, a nationally recognized industry credential. She also earned her first aid and CPR certification and OSHA 10 certification. Angelica received mentoring services, mental health services, career readiness services and other supportive services to help her stay on track and achieve her education and career goals while in YouthBuild. Angelica completed two college courses through YouthBuild’s dual credit program with Heartland Community College. Angelica thrived with the competency-based learning model at YouthBuild and was able to make up lost credits quickly and proficiently. Angelica’s attendance was excellent and while in YouthBuild, she enrolled in AmeriCorps and completed 450 hours of service in addition to her course work. She helped build raised garden beds for the Sunnyside Community Garden, build animal habitats for the Miller Park Zoo and constructed food boxes for families in need at the Midwest Food Bank amongst other projects.

In April 2021, Angelica was awarded a $12,000 scholarship to Heartland Community College to pursue an associate’s in applied science degree in Construction Project Management. She will also earn an AmeriCorps education award for her work in community service. In August 2021, Angelica was a member of the graduating class at YouthBuild. She was also awarded the Suzanne Fitzgerald Leadership Award, the highest award at YouthBuild, “for demonstrating leadership excellence and inspiring others to perform at their best”.

She is enrolled as a fulltime student at Heartland Community College and will being classes in August 2021. Angelica will also be coming back to YouthBuild in September 2021 as a work-study student through Heartland to assist the Construction Vocational Instructor train new YouthBuild students.

YouthBuild Rockford

CCS had a young Hispanic male enroll in our YouthBuild Rockford program in 2020 who was a court involved youth. He was a high school dropout and not sure what his future was when he first enrolled. This young man graduated from the YouthBuild Rockford program and became an AmeriCorps member at the agency acting as an apprentice in our construction department in 2021. Today he is a full apprentice employed by CCS as a Construction assistant in our YouthBuild Rockford program. To date he has built two units of low-income housing, is maintaining two maintenance contracts with housing partners and continues to build his skills working side by side with Journeymen Carpenters.


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.